Al-Qaida wing for N. Africa claims Algiers blasts

Algerian authorities say at least 26 people killed in blasts at UN offices, gov't building; terror group says 110 people dead.

algiers 224.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
algiers 224.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The North African branch of al-Qaida said in an Internet posting it was behind the bombings in the Algerian capital on Tuesday, claiming also that 110 people were killed in the attacks carried out by two suicide bombers. A statement posted on a militant Web site said two "martyrs" of al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa drove cars loaded with 800 kilograms of explosives each "to attack the headquarters of the international infidels' den" and the headquarters of the Algerian constitutional council. Algerian authorities said that at least 26 people, including as many as five UN employees, were killed in the vehicle blasts, minutes apart, that sheared the facades off UN offices and a government building in Algiers, the Algerian capital. Some 177 people were wounded, officials said. "This is another successful conquest ... carried out by the Knights of the Faith with their blood in defense of the wounded nation of Islam," said the militant statement. The group said the attack honored one of its key operatives, Sufyan Abu Haidra, who had been killed in fighting Algerian troops. The militant statement also said the attack preceded the holy Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, or the feast of Sacrifice, later this month. "On the eve of Eid we are heralding to the Muslim nation the good news of two operations carried out by two martyrs," it said. The group identified the suicide bombers as Ibrahim Abu Othman, who attacked the UN building, and Abdel-Rahman Abu Abdel-Nasser al-Assimi, who attacked the constitutional council building. The al-Qaida statement said 60 people were killed in the first attack and 50 in the second. "The conquest comes to remind the Crusaders who are occupying our land and the plunderers of our wealth that they should listen carefully to the demands and speeches of our sheik ... Osama bin laden, God protect him," it concluded. Al-Qaida has called for attacks on French and Spanish interests in North Africa. Bin Laden's chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, called in September for jihad in North Africa to "cleanse (it) of the children of France and Spain." It was not immediately clear why the UN might have been targeted. Algeria has been battling Islamic insurgents since the early 1990s, when the army canceled the second round of the country's first multi-party elections, stepping in to prevent likely victory by an Islamic fundamentalist party. Islamist armed groups then turned to force to overthrow the government, with up to 200,000 people killed in the ensuing violence. While large-scale fighting died down after the 1990s, the past year has seen a series of bombings against state targets, many of them suicide attacks. Recent bombings have been claimed by al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa. Once focused, as the GSPC, on toppling the Algerian government, the group has turned its sights to international holy war and the fight against Western interests.