Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Al-Qaeda Group Says It Carried Out Algeria Suicide Bomb Attacks

by Ed Johnson and Ahmed Rouaba from Bloomberg (US: New York)

The first blast in Algiers occurred at 9:40 a.m. local time yesterday and struck the Constitutional Council building, killing as many as 50 - mostly students - and injuring dozens of others. Less than 10 minutes later, the offices of the UN Development Program and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees were hit, killing 12 people, according to hospital officials. UN spokeswoman Marie Okabe said at least 11 personnel were among the dead. Algeria's Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni said the attacks were carried out by the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which changed its name to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in January. The Maghreb is the Arabic name for the North African countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia ... "They are beginning to target Westerners and Western interests in Algeria more aggressively," Haim Malka, deputy Middle East program director for the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in an interview. "They would argue that Western nations are supporting repressive regimes in North Africa and that Western business interests are stealing the region's natural resources." Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups using parts of North Africa to "gain sanctuary, recruit, indoctrinate, train, equip, transit and mount operations," U.S. Army General are Bantz J. Craddock, supreme allied commander in Europe, said in March.

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