Ramadan terror in Algeria

A suicide car bombing near the eastern Algerian town of Dellys killed three people Sept. 28, as Ramadan draws to a close amid a heavy deployment of security forces throughout the country. Three armed Islamists were killed by security forces in eastern Algeria a day earlier, and an alleged leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) on Sept. 5. Four police officers were also wounded in a bombing near the eastern city of Tizi Ouzou Sept. 14, and a gendarme killed and two others wounded in Ain Defla, west of Algiers, Sept. 24. For all that, it was Algeria’s least bloody Ramadan since 1992; 60 were killed in the Muslim holy month last year.

The month of daily fasting, which began Sept. 1 and ends this week, was preceded by a series of suicide attacks and ambushes in eastern Algeria. Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia issued a stark warning to Islamic extremists at the onset of the holy month. “We will fight them to the end. They have two choices: to surrender and take advantage of national reconciliation or be killed for the crimes they are committing,” Ouyahia said.

A peace and reconciliation law, which took effect in February 2006, offers amnesty to militants who surrender to the Algerian authorities. It has led to the release of more than 2,000 people convicted of terrorism offenses and the surrender of some 300 armed militants.

But AQIM chief Abu Musab Abdul Wadud remained intransigent. “Unite around the jihad that is the only alternative power to the apostate regimes that dominate our lands,” he said in an audio speech posted on Islamist websites, the SITE Intelligence Group said. (News24, South Africa, Sept. 29)

See our last posts on Algeria, al-Qaeda and the Maghreb.