Gulf & Middle East
24 dead, 143 injured in Algiers bombings
Apr 11, 2007 - 9:54:05 PM

Algiers, April 11 - At least 24 people died and 110 were injured as at least two explosions rocked the Algerian capital Algiers and one of its suburbs Wednesday, Algerian Solidarity Minister Jamal Wild Abbas said.

One of the blasts was caused by a car bomb that was detonated in front of the main government offices where, witnesses said, a suicide bomber managed to break through a police barrier.

The attack killed at least 12 people, including the bomber, two police officers, a pregnant woman and two children.

The blast injured 93 people, 50 of whom were in critical condition, Abbas told journalists at Mustapha Pasha Hospital in central Algiers.

The official APS news agency said the car bomb targeted the offices of Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem. The explosion is said to have sent hundreds of people running in panic through the streets of downtown Algiers and scattered broken glass and other debris over hundreds of metres.

Another bomb, which went off only minutes after the first, exploded in front of a police station in the eastern suburb of Bab al-Suwar and killed at least 12 people while injuring more than 50, the Mustapha Pasha Hospital said.

Local residents claimed that at least three car bombs went off in Bab al-Suwar.

In a first reaction, Belkhadem called the attacks 'criminal and cowardly,' and noted that they 'took place at a time when all the Algerian people are demanding national reconciliation.'

In a statement, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy expressed his 'horror and indignation' at the attacks and conveyed France's 'total solidarity' with the Algerian government's fight against terrorism.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombings, the first to strike Algiers in several years and the first ever to target the palace of the prime minister.

However, the radical Islamic group formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat - has recently joined the al Qaeda terrorist network.

The group has declared its intention to attack Western targets, particularly in France, and has stepped up its campaign against the government in Algiers.

Since the beginning of the year, some 50 people had been killed in various terrorist attacks, some of which struck at foreign engineers working on Algeria's gas fields.

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