Algeria: Fight against terrorism involves Maghreb citizens, Bouteflika

algeria-to-fight-terrorismAlgeria has announced that its fight against terrorism in the Sahara desert involves nationals of neighboring countries. President Bouteflika insisted that there is need to increase border security because of the heavy weapons seized during the raids carried out by the Algerian troops.  It is the first statement of the Bouteflika as president after a much debated election.
Shortly after a meeting with the ministers, the President was quoted saying that the 10 fighters killed by the Algerians came from neighboring Mali, Libya and Tunisia. All of these countries have been struggling to maintain stability especially. Fighters of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI) almost took over Mali last year before the French army and African forces intervened.
Militant attacks in Algeria have been scarce since the end of the decade-long 1990 war with the Islamists. However, AQMI has been of late very active in the southern part of the country largely dominated by the Sahara desert. Bouteflika said that the attack on the militants helped to stop an “infiltration by a heavily armed terrorist group” composed of non-Algerians. Weapons such as rocket launchers, rifles and grenades were seized. The intervention of the Algerian troops took place near the Tin-Zaouatine, bordering Mali.
Memories of the In Amenas gas plant attack are still fresh in the memories of Algerians although most of the victims were foreigners. AQIM claimed responsibility for an ambush last month on an army patrol in the mountains east of Algiers that killed 14 soldiers. The attack was masterminded by a terrorist group headed by Mokhtar Belmokhtar, an Algerian.
Although Bouteflika has promised to engage in serious reforms before being elected, he will also have to deal with the ever-present threats of the terrorist groups in the region.

About Geraldine Boechat 1986 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia