2 bombs exploded in Algiers today killing at least 23 people with 162 wounded.
A car bomb exploded 100 metres from the entrance to the Algerian prime minister's office (10.50 local time) in the center of Algiers while another bomb hit a suburban police station in the suburbs at Bab Ezzouar. GSPC, or Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, Algeria's largest remaining Islamic guerrilla group were initially blamed.
Al-Jazeera television said a man identifying himself as Abu Muhammad Salah called the station's Rabat bureau to say he's al- Qaeda's spokesman in North Africa and that the group carried out the attacks. Agence France Presse reported the 2 suicide bombers and their photos were later published on an al-Qaeda linked Internet site.(see pic)
Parliamentary elections are due on May 17
Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem spoke publicly about an hour after the attack. "This criminal attack is perpetrated at the time when the Algerian people are seeking national reconciliation,'' he said. It is certain that these events will be used by the Government to further restrict even non-violent Islamic candidates from running in the May 17 elections.
The GSPC was founded in the mid-1990s as a rival to the Armed Islamic Groups, or GIA, Algeria's main Islamic guerrilla group. The civil war began after the military-backed government banned 1992 elections that the now banned Islamic Salvation Front was poised to win. While both groups want to impose an Islamic state, the GSPC objected to the GIA slaughter of civilians during the conflict that killed an estimated 200,000 people in the 1990s.
Unlike the GIA, the GSPC didn't accept a 1999 amnesty offer that largely brought the civil war to an end. After virtually disappearing in the mid-1990s, foreign direct investment hit $1.1 billion a year in 2001, 2002 and 2005, the most recent year available, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development says.
UNCTAD reports growing foreign direct investment rising to $8.3 billion in 2005 from $3.1 billion in 1999, BP have huge developments in the interior for gas and oil development.
In 2003, the GSPC pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda. Ayman al- Zawahiri, who is said to be the top aide to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, reciprocated last September, announcing a "blessed union'' and saying the GSPC would be al-Qaeda's weapon to attack France and Algeria's military-dominated government, which cooperates closely with both France and the U.S.
The attacks follow the deaths of 4 alleged terrorists and a policeman yesterday in police raids in Morocco. Tunisian police and Islamic militants fought gun battles around Tunis last December
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.
Lord Patel posted recently about the Salafist / Al Quaeda link up and recent bombings of oil workers. Also the President's very low key visit last June to mee the Queen and buy arms.Plus the US$4Bn. worth of arms sold to Algeria in 2006 by Russia.
By the way, UK energy security is relying on LNG supplies from Algeria... and is a major investment zone for BP - the energy company.