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Algeria kills 14 militants in eastern clashes

February 18, 2017 at 11:01 am

Algerian troops have killed at least 14 armed militants in the past two days in an operation in an eastern region known as a former stronghold for hardline militants, the Defence Ministry said in a statement yesterday.

Troops ambushed and killed five militants on Wednesday and have since killed nine more during the operation by the army in the Bouira province, around 70 kilometres east of the capital Algiers, the statement said.

It did not give further details about the militants or which group they belonged to. Bouira was inside one of the strongholds for Islamist militants during a war between the government and fighters in the 1990s that left 200,000 people dead.

Islamists won Algerian elections in 1990, but war broke out after the hardline secularist establishment could not accept their democratic win. The secularists in the Algerian government launched a military coup in 1991 that began over a decade of bloody conflict, increased radicalisation and dampened any mood for democracy ever since.

Violence has declined in Algeria since a peace was agreed in the early 2000s. However, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and small bands of militants allied to the Daesh extremist group have been active in some remote mountains and in the southern desert border regions.