Al-Qaeda claims Algeria bombings

Deadly blasts in nation's capital hit prime minister's office and a police station.

    Al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb
    posted photos of the bombers on the internet
    Later on Wednesday, Al Jazeera's bureau in Rabat, the capital of Morocco, received a phone call from a man who said he was a member of al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb, and wanted to take responsibility for the explosions.
    Witness accounts
    The Algerian 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, has put the combined toll from the two explosions at 23 with 160 wounded, while Reuters news agency said the bombings killed a total of 30 people.

    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.

    Al-Qaeda claim
    In the phone call to Al Jazeera's office in Rabat, a man identifying himself as Abu Mohammed Salah said that three al-Qaeda members had carried out suicide truck-bombings. His claims could not be independently confirmed.
    He said the attacks targeted three sites: the Algerian government building in the capital, and the headquarters of Interpol and the judicial police headquarters in Bab Ezzouar.
    Salah said: "We are targeting the alliance of crusaders and their governments, tracing them wherever they are, defending our brothers the oppressed all over the world, and defending our brothers the detainees, prisoners and oppressed ones in Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania or others."
    The group also claimed responsibility in an internet statement and posted photos of the three "martyrs".
    Chakib Benmoussa, Morocco's interior minister, said investigators had "established no link" between Wednesday's blasts in Algeria and attack in Casablanca on Tuesday, but said ''we don't rule it out".

    Benmoussa said the timing of the attacks was possibly coincidental.

    Prime minister unhurt

    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.


    "These were odious and cowardly acts"

    Javier Solana, European Union foreign policy chief

    Belkhadem, on Al-Arabiya television, said "the objective was a media provocation shortly before the election" and vowed national elections would go ahead as planned next month.


    Reports say al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb - which claimed the Algiers bombings - is the new name of the main armed anti-government group, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.


    The Salafist group 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 in the 1990s.


    International reaction


    World leaders reacted with horror to the bombings.


    Algeria's official news agency said
    160 people were wounded [Reuters]

    Marie Okabe, UN deputy spokeswoman, said Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, "strongly condemns the terrorist bombings that occurred today in Algeria".


    The Arab League also condemned "these terrorist acts and what they represent and aim to achieve".


    Jacques Chirac, the French president, condemned what he called the "terrible attacks" in a message of solidarity with Algeria, which was a French colony until 1962.


    Denouncements came from the Arab monarchies of the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar in separate statements, as well as from Russia, Iran and the US state department.


    In Brussels, Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, said: "These were odious and cowardly acts."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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