A refrigerated truck loaded with explosives was blown up Wednesday in a military encampment 48 miles southeast of Algiers by a suicide bomber. The blast killed 10 soldiers and wounded up to 35, a security official said.
The bombing came on the opening day of the Africa Games, one of the continent's biggest sporting events with venues in Algiers and the towns of Blida and Boumerdes. Lakhdaria sits midway between Blida and Boumerdes.
Thousands of athletes from 52 countries have come to Algeria to compete in 27 sports. The games are held every four years.
More than 8,000 police have been deployed since July 2 for the games at 36 sites used for the event, according to the daily Liberte.
"I heard a terrible explosion," said the owner of a coffee shop in Lakhdaria, a settlement surrounded by forested mountains that have long served as a hideouts for Islamist rebels. "I first thought it was an earthquake but soon I found out it was an attack against the barracks."
The explosion ignited panic in a region that experienced widespread violence during the 1990s at the height of an Islamic insurgency. Security remains tight in the area.
Soldiers spread out throughout the region after the bombing and security was increased at the Algiers airport with thorough checks of all cars and passengers that caused extended flight delays. Extra roadblock checkpoints went up around the capital.
Algeria has been seeking to quell an Islamic insurgency that has killed as many as 200,000 people since the army called off elections in 1992 that an Islamist party was expected to win. While large-scale violence died down in the 1990s, scattered attacks by the al-Qaida affiliate have mounted in recent months.
Last week, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika gave a saber-rattling speech to army officers on the country's Independence Day, denouncing "enemies of the people" trying to disrupt national unity.
That same day, a bomb hit the convoy of a top official in the Tizi-Ouzou region east of the capital. Security officials blamed the attack on al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa.
(Xinhua News Agency via agencies July 13, 2007)