Once again in Algeria!
Twin terror bombings kill seven in eastern Algeria (Magharebia.com)
Seven people, including a baby, were killed Thursday (February 12th) in two co-ordinated bomb attacks in the eastern Algeria province of Tebessa, on the border with Tunisia.
In the first attack, a roadside bomb in the town of Foum El-Metlag ripped through a minivan carrying a local family. Four people, including two women and an infant, died from the blast. When security forces and first responders rushed to the scene, terrorists detonated a second bomb, killing two gendarmes and one medic. The severely-wounded gendarmerie brigade chief was rushed to the military hospital in Constantine, where, according to local press reports, his right arm had to be amputated.
It was the worst attack in Algeria since August 19th, 2008, when a suicide bomber killed 48 people at a paramilitary police barracks in Issers, east of Algiers.
The goal in last week's attack was to maximise casualties. Terrorists targeted and killed unarmed civilians to attract security personnel to the area before launching a separate assault.
The bombings came hours after President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced his intention to run for a third term in the April 9th elections. During his declaration of candidacy, Bouteflika reiterated his commitment to the policy of national reconciliation, which allows repentant militants to come back into society.
Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni, however, denied any relation between the terrorist attack and President Bouteflika's announcement. In a press statement February 14th, he said, "The two operations are part of the terrorist operations to which we have become accustomed. Targeting unarmed civilians in this way confirms one more time the state of despair in which the terrorist elements are living, due to the killing [of] many of their leaders in the last few months."
Security expert Bouelam Ghoumrassa also dismissed any connection between Bouteflika's declaration and the terror bombings in Tebessa.
"We can't just link what took place on Thursday directly with Bouteflika's announcement of his candidacy," he told Magharebia.
Still, he said, the terrorists' decision to target civilians and security forces confirms "their rejection of the national reconciliation upon which President Bouteflika insists".
"It's also an attempt to deny what President Bouteflika confirmed in his speech, to the effect that terrorism has been eradicated from the country," he noted.
The terrorist operation in Tebessa also closely followed an airing on Qatari satellite TV channel Al Jazeera of a recording by Hassan Hattab, founder in 1998 of the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC). The armed group changed its name in 2007 to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
In the recording, Hattab called on members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb to lay down their weapons and take advantage of the Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation. Hattab had already issued the same call for surrender in a statement released last month to the Algerian press.
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