Five civilians were killed and three others were wounded in a roadside bomb in eastern Algeria today, the defence ministry in Algiers has revealed. The homemade bomb exploded as a car passed by on a road in the region of Tebessa, near the Tunisian border.
The ministry added that an armed man had been killed in the neighbouring region of Khenchela. "Following an ambush in Oued Boudekhane… in Khenchela prefecture, a detachment of the People's National Armed Forces shot dead… a dangerous terrorist," an official was quoted as saying by Agence France Presse (AFP). Several suspicious items, including a machine gun, ammunition, mobile phones and a radio transmitter, were recovered during the operation.
It was not immediately clear if the two incidents were connected.
The bomb attack is the deadliest on civilians in the country in recent years, said AFP. In 2005 a Charter for Peace and Reconciliation was meant to end civil war-era hostilities between the army and multiple militant groups in Algeria. However, such groups remain active in the country, and carry out sporadic operations.
On 4 January, the Algerian Defence Ministry reported that two days of skirmishes between militant groups and the army had resulted in the death of six suspected militants and three soldiers. The military claimed to have killed 21 militants, captured nine and apprehended seven who surrendered, during army operations in the whole of last year.
The army also thwarted a planned redeployment of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) fighters to Algeria following the death of their leader in June last year. Abdelmalek Droukdel was killed by French forces in northern Mali. He was replaced by Algerian national and AQIM veteran Abu Obaida Yusuf Al-Annabi in November.
Earlier this month, 20 people, mostly African nationals, died when the vehicle in which they were travelling overturned in southern Algeria. A further 11 passengers were injured in the incident in the desert province of Tamanrasset, a known transit point for African migrants seeking to get to Europe.