Algeria insurgents kill at least 14 troops
Algiers, July 30, 2009
At least 14 Algerian soldiers have been killed in an insurgent ambush, local newspapers have reported.
The 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 (July 29) 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.
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 use the region's beaches.
The past two months have seen an upsurge in violence. In the deadliest incident in nearly a year, insurgents killed 18 paramilitary police officers and one civilian, according to officials, in an ambush in the east of Algeria in June. – Reuters