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Algeria under shock after double bombing

Latest update : 2008-06-10

As Algerian state radio denied rumors of new terrorist attacks on Monday, the company employing the French engineer who was among the 13 victims in Sunday's twin bomb blasts said it was moving its French staff back to France.

Find out more about Algeria's recent wave of terrorist attacks by watching the France 24 Debate





"Al Qaeda looms over terror attacks" : click here to read the commentary by FRANCE 24's Robert Parsons.


Algeria is in a state of shock following Sunday’s twin blast in Lakhdaria, east of the capital Algiers. The attack that left 13 dead, including a French engineer, according to AFP, though Algeria's defence ministry said only two were killed. With the Frenchman's corpse expected to be flown back home on Monday, the French company Razel, the blasts’ obvious target, has already announced it would recall the three other expats working on the site.


“We’ve just decided that the three other French workers on the building site would fly back to Paris this very day,” the company’s communication chief Jean-Marie Sifre told the AFP. “The site can operate without French personnel for a while,” he added. BTP Razel is currently in charge of repair works on a railway tunnel.


First French citizen killed since 1994


“Sunday’s attacks were clearly aimed at French presence in the country,” suggests FRANCE 24’s international affairs editor Jean-Bernard Cadier. “It’s the first time since the 1990s that a French citizen is killed in an act of political violence in Algeria”. Last September, three Razel employees were injured following a suicide attack claimed by al Qaeda in the Maghreb.


Over a decade ago, a series of bloody attacks across Algeria took a huge toll. Between September 1993 and the end of 1994, a total 71 foreigners were killed, including 22 French citizens.


“Obviously, this is very worrying,” says Jean-Bernard Cadier in the wake of the recent wave of attacks, “particularly at a time when France is trying to clarify its links with Algeria. What will the Mediterranean Union look like if people on the north shore are too scared to go work on the opposite shore?”


Over the last five days, Algeria has been struck by three bomb attacks. Plunged once again into the threat of terrorism, the country is bracing for further strikes. According to Francophone daily El Watan, the current atmosphere compares with the anguish that followed the April 2007 attack on the government's palace. On Monday afternoon, a fourth explosion was reported east of Algiers. Though several media relayed the news, it was later refuted by Algerian state radio.


Nicolas Sarkozy condemns the blasts


Though no one has so far claimed the attacks, Sunday’s twin blasts took place in Boumerdès province, a region where Islamist rebels are known to be active. The bomb that killed the engineer Pierre Nowacki was activated by remote control as his car left the building site east of Algiers. His Algerian driver was also killed. Soon after, a second blast left eleven people dead, including eight soldiers who were escorting the engineer.


Over in Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy sent a message to his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika condemning “the senseless and barbaric violence that continues to plague the Algerian people”.


Acknowledging that Algeria was “a dangerous country”, France’s Foreign Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner called on French citizens to remain vigilant, though he stopped short of issuing any particular instructions. “We need to work in the country, in order to further develop our strong commercial links and ties of friendship,” he told RTL radio station.


In 2007, several French companies decided to send the families of their employees back home after al Qaeda’s deputy commander Ayman al-Zawahiri called on Islamist militants to “cleanse” North Africa of all French and Spanish citizens.


Date created : 2008-06-09