Algeria suffers second straight day of bombings


Aftermath of one of the attacks in Bouira.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb struck inside Algeria for the second straight day . Eleven Algerians were killed and 31 were wounded in two bomb attacks in the town of Bouira, The Press Association reported.

The attacks occurred within minutes of each other, witnesses in Bouira reported. It is unclear if the attacks were conducted by suicide bombers or if car bombs were used.

The first bomb destroyed the fascade of the regional military headquarters in the town. Four soldiers were reported wounded in the attack. The second bomb targeted a bus transporting laborers that worked on the construction of a nearby dam. The detonation occurred near the largest hotel in the town. Eleven Algerians were killed and 27 were reported wounded in the bus attack. All of those killed were civilians.

While no group has taken credit for the attack, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is the prime suspect. The attack profile – dual attacks against military and economic targets timed to detonate nearly simultaneously – matches past attacks by the terror group.

Today’s strike follows yesterday’s deadly suicide attack that targeted potential police recruits outside a police academy in the town of Issers. The suicide car bomber killed 43 Algerians and wounded more than 45. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb also conducted a deadly ambush on a joint police and military patrol in eastern Algeria on Sunday. The attack killed an Army major and 11 policemen.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb stepped up its terror campaign in Algeria over the summer. Since early June, the terror group has conducted six major bombings. The group has conducted multiple mass-casualty attacks since 2006 while targeting Algeria’s president, prime minister, security forces headquarters, military barracks, police stations, courts, and the UN headquarters in Algiers.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is the result of Al Qaeda’s efforts to unite the various Salafist terror groups in North Africa. The group was formed after the merger of the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), the Moroccan Islamic Combat Group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, and the Tunisian Combatant Group. The GSPC forms the nucleus of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The majority of the high-impact strikes in North Africa have occurred inside Algeria.

Algerian security officials claim the membership of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb is in the hundreds. But the tempo of attacks inside Algeria suggests otherwise. At least 103 Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb fighters and leaders have been killed or captured by Algerian security forces in 2008, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal, indicating the group is far larger than claimed by Algerian officials.

Also see:

Libyan Islamic Fighting Group joins al Qaeda, Nov. 3, 2007

Al Qaeda hits UN offices, courts, police station in Algiers, Dec. 11, 2007

Al Qaeda suicide attack hits police center in Algeria, Aug. 19, 2008

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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