04/12/2007, 00.00
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Horror and pain across the world at Al Qaeda’s attack in Algiers

Unanimous condemnation from the UN, USA, Russia the EU and Arab Nations. Islamic extremist organisations re-emerge in North Africa. The attacks come a month before parliamentary elections in Algeria.

Roma (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The international community has expressed its horror and pain at the twin suicide attack on Algiers, which claimed the lives of 23 people and seriously wounded a further 160.  

One of the explosions destroyed part of the facade of the Prime Ministers office in the centre of the capital.  A second bomb hit a police station near the international Bab Ezzouar airport, in the eastern suburbs of Algiers.

United Nations' chief Ban Ki-moon expressed “strong condemnation of the terrorist bombings that occurred in Algeria … This deplorable incident, the latest in a series of similar attacks in the Maghreb region as a whole, shows the need for concerted international action against terrorism which has the effect of undermining the normal functioning of societies and disrupting the lives of ordinary people”.

In Washington, both the White House and State department condemned the attacks.  

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed “sadness and indignation” at the violence.  In a statement released by the Kremlin it is noted that “This criminal act of terrorism once again confirms that terrorism has no ethnic or religious identity and is one of the greatest challenges the entire international community faces today”.

In the Middle East, the secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Mussa, condemned the attacks, together with the monarchies of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar.

In Brussels, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana defined as “hateful and cowardly” “the bloody attacks perpetrated in Algiers which caused a high number of casualties”.

The Al Qaeda organisation in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility for the Algiers bombing in an Internet statement and said 45 people had been killed. The claim could not immediately be verified but the group, formerly known as the “Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat”, which has taken responsibility for a number of deadly attacks on security forces and foreigners in Algeria since January.

The last large scale attack staged by the group was last October when they targeted a police stations in Reghaia and Dergana.

For the last 20 days the Algerian army has been carrying out raids on suspected bombers in the Kabilya district Bejaia, arresting hundreds of armed elements linked to the Salafist group.

Yesterday’s attacks seem to be a show of strength, to put on show the Groups capabilities, which has become the focal point of a new regional alliance of jihadists, which includes veterans from the Iraqi war and members of Al Qaeda. Just a day earlier in Casablanca (Morocco) a terrorist attack was foiled, ending in the suicide of three bombers who were caught by police.  There are ears that neighbouring Tunisia will also be subjected to attacks.

The Algiers bombs come just one month before the country’s parliamentary elections.  The violence risks delaying the elections and blocking the moderate Islamic vote, who had recently decided to participate in the polls.   

Fayza Kebdi, a lawyer who works opposite the government building, said "We thought the years of terrorism were over," she said. "We thought everything was back to normal. Now the fear is coming back”.  Organized Islamic violence in Algeria date to 1992, after the army annulled the results of legislative elections in which the Islamic party had won the majority.  

 

 

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