Eighteen die in Algiers attack

EIGHTEEN people were killed and dozens wounded in an overnight suicide bombing at the Cherchell military academy west of Algiers.

Eight of the wounded were in serious condition after yesterday’s attack, the first against the academy since a terror campaign started in the 1990s in Algeria, the French-language daily El Watan reported on its website.

The attack by two suicide bombers took place 100km west of the Algerian capital, around 10 minutes after the breaking of the Ramadan fast at 4.30pm AEST yesterday.

The bombers, one on a motorcycle, set off explosions a few seconds apart in front of the entrance to the officers’ mess hall, El Watan said.

A hospital source said the dead included 16 soldiers and two civilians.

The wounded were evacuated to hospitals in the nearby towns of Sidi Ghiles and Tipaza, as well as to the army’s central Ain-Naadja hospital in Algiers, the source said.

According to El Watan, the suicide bombers tried to cause as many casualties as possible by targeting the officers’ mess just as all the soldiers were assembled to break the fast.

The reports were not confirmed by official sources.

Authorities generally remain tight-lipped about such incidents, which have not ended despite the policy of national reconciliation adopted in the early 2000s by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Under this policy, many Islamist fighters have been offered pardons in exchange for laying down their arms.

The Cherchell Academy was set up by France during World War II and after the Allied landings in North Africa on November 8, 1942.

It remained an officers’ college after Algerian independence.

Many attacks have been staged east of Algiers since the fast started in early August, and incidents in Kabylia have targeted the army and police.

Early this week, two policemen and a soldier were killed in two separate attacks in the Bordj Bou Arreridj region, 220km south-east of the capital, and in Boumerdes, 50km east of Algiers.

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