Five dead and three injured in Algeria explosion

This attack, not yet recognised by any terrorist group, is the most deadly attack against civilians in Algeria in several years
Este ataque, no reconocido aún por ningún grupo terrorista, es el más mortífero contra civiles en Argelia en varios años 

AFP/RYAD KRAMDI   -   Five people were killed and three others injured when a home-made bomb exploded in eastern Algeria 

At least five people were killed and three others injured on Thursday when an improvised explosive device exploded as a vehicle drove through the Algerian town of Tebessa, on the border with Tunisia.

The victims were on board a vehicle when the explosion occurred in Tebessa province, about 573 km (358 miles) from the capital Algiers, the defence ministry said in a statement, without revealing further details.

"Five citizens were killed and three others were injured by a homemade bomb explosion when their commercial vehicle passed by the Oued Khenig-Roum, near the town of Telidjane in the wilaya (prefecture) of Tebessa," according to the official statement.

During the operation, army personnel seized an assault rifle, three magazines with ammunition, a radio station and two mobile phones, according to Efe news agency.

In a second communiqué, also issued on Thursday, the Algerian Ministry of Defence stated that special anti-terrorist units killed an alleged Jihadist, considered very dangerous, in an operation carried out in the town of Oued Boudekhane, near the city of Khenchela, also in the northwest of the country.

Map of Algeria locating the province of Tebessa   PHOTO/ARCHIVE
PHOTO/ARCHIVE-Map of Algeria locating the province of Tebessa  

President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who had to be hospitalised in Germany as a result of the post-COVID-19 "complications", denounced "an act of cowardice and barbarism" and offered his condolences to the victims' families.

Jihadist activity has soared in Algeria over the past five years, both in the regions near the capital in the north and in the southern provinces bordering Libya, Niger and Mali.

For his part, the head of the army's general staff, General Said Chengriha, urged "citizens to be more vigilant and avoid travelling on remote roads, which are little known by the inhabitants of the region".

The Algerian armed forces have stepped up anti-terrorist operations in the east and north of the country in recent weeks. Nine Jihadists and four soldiers have been killed in clashes in these areas since 1 December, according to defence ministry figures, in addition to destroying 295 weapons depots and seizing a total of 750 home-made bombs and 1,900 kg of explosive material.

Violence has decreased in the North African country since the authorities ended a war in the 1991's against armed Islamists in a conflict that killed 200,000 people.

The authorities use the term "terrorist" to designate armed Islamists who have been active since the civil war (1991-2002). But Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and small gangs of Islamists allied with Daesh remain active in remote areas, particularly on the border separating northern Mali and southern Algeria on the western side, one of the main smuggling routes for arms, fuel and people.