Algerian army kills al-Qaeda militants

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Algiers - Security forces in Algeria have killed 10 militants presumed to be members of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in separate operations, press reports on Saturday cited the defence ministry as saying.

They said nine AQIM members including a chief named as Boubeker Zemmouri, 29, were killed by soldiers in a special operation at Jebel Djerrah in the Beni Amrane area of Boumerdes province, 50 kilometres east of Algiers.

Another militant was reported killed in a village in the same area in the operations which took place on Wednesday and Thursday, security sources quoted in the Liberte, Le Soir d'Algerie and El-Watan dailies said.

The official APS news agency said security forces also recovered Kalashnikov-type assault rifles, three semi-automatic rifles, two shotguns, ammunition and other equipment, including two solar panels.

The newspapers reported that the nine were members of a militant group called El-Arkam, one of the most active in central Algeria.

Le Soir d'Algerie said the group had launched dozens of suicide attacks between 2007 and 2008.

APS quoted a defence ministry statement as saying the operation showed the army's “willingness and ability to anticipate the movements of terrorist groups and destroy them.”

On August 20, official media in Algeria reported the arrests of three armed Islamists, including a senior AQIM member thought to be close to its leader, in the south of the country.

Necib Tayeb, also known as Abderrahmane Abou Ishak Essoufi, one of the oldest members of al-Qaeda's north African branch, headed its so-called “judicial committee” and had been wanted since 1995, APS said at the time.

It cited well-informed sources as saying the operation by Algerian special forces had dealt a “fatal blow” to AQIM, given Tayeb's close links to AQIM chief Abdelmalek Droukdel.

An Algiers court in June sentenced Droukdel to death in absentia for a series of murders and bombings.

AQIM, which stems from a group started in the late 1990s by radical Algerian Islamists, formally subscribed to Al-Qaeda's ideology in 2007, but after a string of high-profile attacks, the army managed to severely curtail its operations.

It has since been boosted by the turmoil in neighbouring Mali that followed a coup there in March, with hardline Islamists occupying the country's vast northern region. - Sapa-AFP


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