Algerian minister says 120 militants killed over six months

March 1, 2009 23:16


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Security forces have killed 120 militants linked to al-Qaida in Algeria over the past six months and arrested 322, the government said Sunday. Speaking at a police academy diploma ceremony in the capital, Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni attributed the results to increased security efforts in the North African country since August, when al-Qaida's local offshoot claimed responsibility for a series of suicide bombings that left over 100 people dead. Zerhouni said another 22 militants gave themselves up, and 150 weapons have been seized. Those in custody include some high-ranking militant chiefs, such as Ali Bentouati - a senior "emir," or commander, for the zone of central Algeria. He surrendered to police in January. The minister pointed to the combined efforts police, paramilitary, intelligence and military forces used to fend off a resurgent Islamist militancy in Algeria. The security sweeps are mainly due to "a better penetration of terror support networks and terrorist groups," he was quoted as saying by the state news agency, APS. "This is the proof of evolving intelligence techniques."

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