New AQMI Attack on Algerian Military
AQMI is down but not out. Al Qaeda Maghreb, formerly known as the GSPC killed seven soldiers, according to Algerian officials
Associated Press says a suspected militant was also killed. Four troops were killed in a roadside bomb on Sunday in Tebessa region.
According to AP, reporting El Khabar daily newspaper, the bombing occurred in Stah Kentess, a village about 340 miles (550 kilometers) east of the capital, Algiers. The report said five soldiers were killed, but the local officials told The Associated Press only four had died.
Separately, suspected Islamists disguised as soldiers set up a fake check point Sunday in the Bordj-Menaiel district of Boumerdes, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) east of Algiers.
While checking identity cards of passengers traveling on a bus, the militants identified three off-duty soldiers, pulled them out and executed them, local security officials said.
In a separate incident also near Boumerdes, security officials said they killed an Islamist militant during an ambush. Officials said Ahmed Belaid, about 50, was not a high-ranking leader but was prominent among militants because he had spent the past 15 years organizing insurgent camps in the mountains east of Algiers. All officials spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because of Algerian security regulations.
Roadside bombs killed seven people, including women and a baby, near Tebessa on Thursday, hours after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced he would seek a third term in April presidential elections.
The increased bloodshed before the vote shook months of relative calm in Algeria, where secular-leaning government forces have been battling a resurgent militant group known as al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa, or AQMI. The local terrorist group declared its allegiance to Osama bin Laden's terror network in 2006.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the latest attacks. But militants from AQMI have been active for years in the Tebessa and Boumerdes regions, along with other areas east of Algiers where the army and police regularly conduct sweeps to quell the insurgency.
Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni told national radio this weekend that authorities were gaining ground and that the militants' latest attacks in remote areas and against civilians showed they were being cornered.
Police say they have arrested or killed dozens of AQMI insurgents in recent months, and the group has not conducted a large-scale suicide bombing since August, when it killed more than 100 people.