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
"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)