Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Algerian Government Offices Bombed in Capital, 23 Reported Killed

Explosions rock Algiers

The government offices which were attacked are in a crowded part of the Algerian capital

Two large explosions in the Algerian capital have killed at least 23 people and left dozens more wounded.

One bomb exploded outside the headquarters of the Algerian prime minister in central Algiers on Tuesday morning, causing a blast that could be heard 10km away.

Another explosion targeted a police station in Bab Ezzouar, an eastern suburb of the city near the international airport, damaging a nearby electricity sub-station.

The government has not said what caused the two blasts - although some witnesses reported that the attacks were suicide bombings.

APS, Algeria's official news agency, put the combined toll from the two explosion at 23 with 160 others wounded.

Reuters news agency however reported that a total of 30 people had been killed in the bombings.

Al Jazeera television's bureau in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, received a phone call from a man who said he was a member of al-Qaeda and wanted to take responsibility for the explosions.

The caller said that the explosions were the result of three al-Qaeda members had carried out three suicide car-bombings. His claims could not be independently confirmed.

PM denounces attack

Abdelaziz Belkhadem, the Algerian prime minister, was unhurt and referred to the attacks "criminal and cowardly". He said an investigation would be carried out to determine their cause.

Abdel Karim Dahmen, a member of the ruling party, referred to the blasts as "bombs of terror" and said they could be an attempt to destabilise the country before elections due next month.

Omar Dalal, the editor of the Al Shaab newspaper, was near the scene when one blast happened at 11:30am local time and said it took place in the street parallel to the 17-storey building that houses the prime minister's office and several ministries, including the interior ministry.

The main anti-government rebel group, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (the GSPC) has claimed responsibility for several attacks in recent months and has also declared itself to be a part of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation.

More than 100,000 Algerians died in a civil war between the government and Islamist fighters in the 1990s.

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