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More Bombings Rock Algeria


Two more deadly car bombings have rocked Algeria, killing at least 11 people according to state radio. This follows a suicide car bomb attack on Tuesday which officials say killed more than 40 people and injured 45. VOA's Nico Colombant has more from our West Africa bureau in Dakar.

The latest attacks took place early Wednesday in the city of Bouira, more than 100 kilometers southeast of Algiers.

One of the attacks targeted a bus close to a hotel, while another car exploded near military headquarters.

Residents said they heard the blasts hundreds of meters away. A night guard said the hotel's windows were shattered.

The center of Bouira was immediately cordoned off.

Officials say the area between the capital Algiers, Bouira and the cities of Tizi Ouzou and Boumerdes, has become a quadrilateral of death.

They suspect members of the Islamic Maghreb branch of al-Qaida were behind the attacks.

The Middle East and North Africa editor for the Jane's Country Risk publication, David Hartwell, says terrorism in Algeria came about this decade after the end of the country's civil war. He says radical elements of former rebel groups, the Armed Islamic Group, known as the GIA, and the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, known as the GSPC, have morphed into terrorists.

"The groups were slowly whittled down to sort of a rump of maybe 100 terrorists in each group," he said. "Eventually, the GIA announced a cease-fire . The GSPC continued fighting. But even that group was under severe pressure by the government."

Hartwell says it has been a slow progression from little activity, to more and more terrorist type attacks under the al-Qaida name.

"What happens in the 2004 and 2005 time frame, you had splits that were forming within the GSPC with some of the internal group disagreeing with decisions made by the more radical elements to try and hook up to an al-Qaida based agenda," he said. "That split was confirmed in 2005-2006 period when the group effectively renamed itself and rebranded itself al-Qaida Islamic Maghreb and that group has become much more active in the last two years. The number of attacks has increased."

Following Tuesday's attack 60 kilometers east of Algiers at a police academy in des Issers, the former head of the GSPC called on radicals to stop fighting, while the government said it would combat terrorism until it was totally eliminated.

Clashes between security forces and Islamic radicals have also been taking place recently. Sunday in Skikda, 350 kilometers east of Algiers, a firefight killed eight policemen, three soldiers and one civilian, according to Algerian news reports.

The upsurge in violence precedes the holy Muslim month of Ramadan set to begin in September.

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