Two car bombs have exploded in the Algerian capital, killing at least 62 people and injuring scores more. One of the blasts targeted several U.N. offices, and the United Nations says at least 12 staff members are missing. VOA Middle East and North Africa Correspondent Challiss McDonough has more from Beirut.
The bombs exploded within minutes of each other. One targeted Algeria's constitutional court building, while the other tore apart several buildings used by the United Nations and other aid agencies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
U.N. officials said most of the U.N. casualties were in the offices of the U.N. Development Program and the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR.
Many of the people killed by the explosion outside the Supreme Court were university students riding a school bus that took the brunt of the blast.
Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni told reporters the death toll is very high.
He said, "What we do know for certain is that these were car bombs." He said a suicide bomber drove the vehicle that exploded near the offices of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
The attacks drew swift condemnation from around the world, including statements of outrage from the United Nations, the European Union and the White House.
President Bush condemned the attack on the U.N. office by those he called, the enemies of humanity. He said the United States stands with the people of Algeria, as well as with the United Nations as they deal with the senseless violence.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, but speculation immediately focused on the group known as the al-Qaida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb, or North Africa. It claimed responsibility for a series of deadly bomb attacks in Algeria during the past year, including one in April that killed 33 people.
The group's previous attacks targeted Algerian government institutions and Western interests in the country. It was previously known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, but changed its name in January when it established formal ties with the international al-Qaida terror network.