13 die in attacks in Algeria

26 November 2002

Nine soldiers and four policemen have been killed in Algeria during an ambush in the Kabylie region of the country. Members of the Islamist Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat carried out the attacks on Thursday and Friday, following up an initial ambush with an attack on government forces who came to investigate. The northeastern Kabylie region is home to Algeria's ethnic Berber minority and has poor relations with the government, which many see as discriminating against Berbers, as well as being corrupt. Opposition parties from the region urged voters to boycott May's parliamentary elections and October's municipal elections (MEED 18:10:02; 7:6:02). The four-year-old Salafist organisation is known to be active in the area, and the Algerian government is one of several who claim it has links to al-Qaeda.

Security sources in Algeria have revealed that they killed a top al-Qaeda official in the country in September. Emad Abdelwahid Ahmed Alwan, a Yemeni, is said to have been the organisation's top official in North Africa and died when ambushed by soldiers in the Batna province. The sources said he was in Algeria to assess the Salafist group.

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