Report: Algeria al-Qaida official killed
News of deadly clash comes weeks after double suicide bombings
The Associated Press
Updated: 2:49 p.m. MT April 26, 2007
ALGIERS, Algeria - The No. 2 al-Qaida official in Algeria was killed Thursday in a clash with an army patrol, the countryâ€™s official APS news agency said, citing security officials.
Samir Mousaab was killed near the village of Si Moustapha about 25 miles east of the capital, Algiers, the radio reported.
It said Mousaabâ€™s body was identified by former members of the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, an insurgent group that changed its name to al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa when it announced its alliance with al-Qaida in January.
The group was built on the foundations of an Algerian insurgency to topple Algeriaâ€™s secular government that erupted in 1992 after the army canceled elections that a Muslim fundamentalist party was set to win.
Up to 200,000 people â€” militants, security forces and civilians â€” have been killed.
Thursdayâ€™s clash came weeks after double-suicide bombings on April 11 that killed 33 people and wounded 57 in Algiers. Al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa claimed responsibility for the attacks, coordinated suicide bombings targeting the prime ministerâ€™s office and a police station.
The attacks were the deadliest in the Algiers region since 2002, when a bomb in a suburban market killed 38 people and wounded 80.
Algeria has tried to turn the page on the insurgency through military crackdowns and amnesty offers. Until recently, its efforts appeared successful, with militantsâ€™ ranks decimated and the holdouts isolated in rural hideouts.
Reassured, foreign businesses returned to oil- and gas-rich Algeria, and many foreign workers moved out of hotels and into apartments.
Yet violence has surged again recently, and al-Qaidaâ€™s North Africa wing has claimed responsibility for several recent attacks on foreigners.
A March 3 bombing of a bus carrying workers for a Russian company killed a Russian engineer and three Algerians. In December, an Algerian and a Lebanese citizen were killed in an attack that targeted a bus carrying foreign employees of an affiliate of the U.S. company Halliburton.