Local newspapers reported that at least 14 Algerian troops were killed on Wednesday morning when insurgents ambushed their convoy in the western Tipaza province. Islamist militants regularly stage ambushes and bombings in Algeria.
REUTERS - At least 14 Algerian soldiers have been killed in an insurgent ambush, local newspapers reported late on Wednesday.
El Watan newspaper, citing local sources, reported on its Internet site that 14 soldiers were killed when their convoy was attacked in the Tipaza province in the west of the country on Wednesday morning.
Another newspaper, El Khabar, cited unnamed sources as saying 20 soldiers were killed in the attack. There was no official confirmation of the reports.
Algeria, the world’s fourth largest exporter of natural gas and eighth biggest oil exporter, has for nearly two decades been fighting an insurgency by Islamist militants, who in the past few years have been affiliated to al Qaeda.
The violence has subsided significantly since the 1990s, when the conflict killed 200,000 people, according to estimates by non-governmental groups. But the militants remain a threat, staging periodic bombings and ambushes.
The past two months have seen an upsurge in the violence. Insurgents killed 18 paramilitary police officers and one civilian, according to officials, in an ambush in the east of Algeria in June. That was the deadliest attack in nearly a year.
An attack in the Tipaza region would indicate that the insurgents are expanding their sphere of operations.
Most of the violence has been concentrated in a region to the east of the capital, with the western part of the country relatively unscathed.
Many residents of Algiers head to Tipaza at the weekends to visit the ancient Roman ruins and use the region’s beaches.
El Watan reported that seven soldiers were also wounded in Wednesday’s attack. It said they were part of a convoy delivering supplies to a military outpost when the insurgents launched their ambush.
The convoy was first hit by roadside bombs, after which the militants opened fire with automatic weapons, the paper reported. It said security forces had launched a major operation to track down the attackers.
Date created : 2009-07-30