Algeria suicide attack aimed at president kills 15

Updated: 2007-09-07 14:13

The president also stressed that such attacks by militants "have absolutely nothing in common with the noble values of Islam."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned the bombing as "barbaric and senseless violence."

He assured Bouteflika of the "full solidarity of France and my unswerving support in your fight against terrorism."

Algerian authorities have recently hardened their condemnation of armed Islamists who refuse to join the programme. "They should give themselves up or perish," Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni said recently.

In April, two car bomb attacks near the presidential palace in Algiers and against a police station in the capital killed 33 people and injured more than 220.

And in July, 10 soldiers were killed and 35 people wounded when a suicide bomber rammed a truck packed with explosives into barracks at Lakhdaria, 100 kilometres (60 miles) east of Algiers.

The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), which has pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and renamed itself the Al-Qaeda Movement in the Maghreb, claimed responsibility for those attacks.

The attacks in Algeria, together with bombings in neighbouring Morocco, have revived Western fears of Islamist militants gaining a toehold in North Africa from which to launch attacks in Europe and beyond.

Morocco holds a general election on Friday in which the main Islamist group is expected to become the biggest single party.

The blasts in Algeria have also raised a spectre of the return to the violence of the 1990s, that pitted the authorities against the hardline Armed Islamic Groups (GIA).

The murderous conflict was touched off by the cancellation of multi-party elections in 1992 that the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) had won.

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