Eleven Algerian paramilitary troops were killed early Wednesday in the Sahara desert town of Tinzaoutine, 2,000 kilometres south of Algiers, after their convoy was ambushed by suspected Islamist insurgents, according to local daily El Watan.
AFP - Armed Islamists ambushed a convoy and killed 11 Algerian gendarmes Wednesday near the southern border with Mali, the El Watan daily reported.
The paramilitary police officers were attacked in their vehicles at dawn near Tinzaoutine, about 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) south of the capital Algiers, the newspaper said on its Internet site.
The Islamists destroyed the vehicles and made off with the weapons, it said.
The Sahara region has in recent years seen a dramatic increase in the activities of smugglers and militants linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has claimed several attacks against foreigners.
Algeria announced last week a new strategy in cordination with neighbours Mauritania, Mali and Niger to confront "trans-Sahara terrorism".
AQIM was founded in the late 1990s by radical Algerian Islamists who sought the overthrow of the Algerian government to be replaced with Islamic rule. The organisation linked to Al-Qaeda in 2006.
Believed to number around 300 men, its influence spans large parts of north and west Africa and it has raked in millions of dollars from ransoms, funding a tiny but well-oiled army.
Algerian army chief Ahmed Gaed Salah said Tuesday that the military was determined to eradicate militancy and that armed groups could surrender in terms of a 2005 peace and reconciliation accord or await "certain death".
Date created : 2010-06-30