Al-Qaeda claims deadly Algiers bombs

Updated: 2007-12-12 10:39

The United States called them acts of "senseless violence".

"We condemn this attack on the United Nations office by these enemies of humanity who attack the innocent," said a White House statement.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who made a state visit to Algeria last week, denounced what he called "barbaric, hateful and deeply cowardly acts."

The leaders of Russia, Syria, Spain, and Italy also condemned the attacks, as did those in neighbouring Morocco and Tunisia.

Algerian Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni said a suicide bomber triggered the explosion which ripped through the offices of the UNHCR, neighbouring UN Development Programme (UNDP) and other agencies. The front of the building collapsed.

The chief of the UN's refugee agency, Antonio Guterres, said he had "no doubt the UN was targetted" in the attacks.

There was also widespread destruction around the other car bomb attack, which occurred minutes earlier, outside of the Supreme Court and Constitutional Council building.

"It was like an earthquake," said Ameur Rekhaila, a lawyer who was on the second floor of the Constitutional Council when the bomb went off.

The full force of the bomb blew apart a bus packed with university students as it passed the Supreme Court headed for a nearby law faculty.

Security sources said most of the dead and injured from this attack were students. The blast left a crater several metres (feet) wide.

The UN office is in the Hydra district where the finance and energy ministries and several diplomatic residences are also located.

BAQMI, formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), has admitted responsibility for a series of bomb attacks across Algeria since changing its name and pledging allegiance to Osama bin Laden this year. More than 120 people have now died in the attacks.

On September 6, a suicide attack targeting President Bouteflika's convoy in Batna killed 22 people. Another another suicide attack east of Algiers, left 30 dead and 40 wounded.

Bombs in the Algerian capital on April 11 killed 33 people.

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