Accessibility links

Suicide Bomber Strikes Southern Algeria

Algerian officials say a suicide bomber has attacked a paramilitary base in the Sahara desert, wounding at least 23 people.

Officials say Saturday's attack took place in Tamanrasset, about 2,000 kilometers south of the Algerian capital. Officials said the bomber drove his vehicle into a crowd of police officers and civilians before setting off the explosives and killing himself.

Algeria and other countries in the area have been battling al-Qaida's north African branch, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) for years. But officials said this is the first time terrorists have struck so far south.

The French news agency, AFP, said Saturday it had received a note from an al-Qaida splinter group, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa, claiming responsibility for the attack.

The attack follows an announcement by Algeria's largest opposition party that it will take part in a May 10 parliamentary election.

Until now, the secular Front of Socialist Forces (FFS) had boycotted every election since 1997. The FFS has strong support among Algeria's large Berber ethnic minority.

Political analysts had said the upcoming election would likely be a showdown between military-linked government parties and Islamist factions.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.