Militants kill at least 21 Algerian police in ambush

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Local media stated on Thursday that at least 21 Algerian paramilitary police had been killed after an ambush on their convoy.

The convoy was en route to their barracks at Bordj Bou Arreridj, following an escort of Chinese construction workers to a nearby worksite, located southeast of Algeria's capital of Algiers, when it was attacked late Wednesday.

Militants detonated no less than two roadside bombs to block the convoy, consisting of six vehicles. They then opened fire on the police before stealing their uniforms, weapons, and vehicles. The militants, as part of Al-Qaeda's network, are referred to as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, (AQIM).

Newspaper reports indicated that 21 people had died, while a local official said 23 were killed and a further five had been hospitalized.

A large security operation has started in the area; however, the attack was not immediately confirmed by Algerian authorities.

The militants have been left over from a civil war begun in 1992 between the government and radical Islamists that has killed between 150,000 and 200,000 people. Violence has since diminished, but attacks on government forces still occur.