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Bombs rock Algerian capital

By Denebola
Published: December 2007

By Anjali Jacob

Though most of international attention concerning the Middle East is devoted to the conflicts in Israel and Palestine, recent car-bombings in Algeria diverted some of that attention westward.
Suicide bombers targeted the Constitutional Council and the offices of the United Nations (UN) in Algiers, the capital of Algeria. A school bus full of children also fell victim to the bombers. So far, medical officials claim that 60 people were killed, though the government has only officially reported the deaths of 31.
The North African wing of Al-Qaeda, calling itself “Al-Qaeda in the land of the Islamic Maghreb” (AQLIM), has claimed responsibility for the bombings, claiming that the UN buildings housed an “infidels’s den.”
Their aim was to attract attention to the demands of Osama bin Laden and put pressure on Western governments to comply. “This is another successful conquest … carried out by the Knights of the Faith with their blood in defense of the wounded nation of Islam,” AQLIM said.
What makes this bombing particularly interesting is the fact that it killed 11 members of the UN peacekeeping forces based in Algiers, the largest attack on UN peacekeepers since a 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, which killed 22. “This was an abjectly cowardly strike against civilian officials serving humanity’s highest ideals,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki moon said.
Algeria has been facing such attacks for the past several years, leaving many dead in their wake. Since its civil war in 1990, violence in Algeria has decreased, but it still exists. In September alone, 50 people were killed due to suicide bombings.
The date itself, December 11, holds a special significance in Algerians. It is the anniversary of one of the major turning points in the Algerian struggle for independence. On December 11, 1960, huge protests erupted in the streets of Algiers while the then Prime Minister of France, Charles de Gaulle, came on a visit. In fact, one of the buildings that was targeted by the terrorists was
on December 11, 1960 Boulevard. It is likely that the terrorists are trying to compare the current Algerian government to the former oppressive French government.
The Algerian government remains steadfast in its opposition to terrorism and compliance with the requests of terrorists. Protests against the bombings have already erupted throughout Algeria, and the terrorists do not have popular support.
Though the terrorist group that perpetrated these attacks, AQLIM, claims to be connected with Al-Qaeda, it is more likely that the connection is based solely on inspiration.
Hopefully, this will be the last in the long series of attacks that has plagued Algeria. At least we can be comfortable with the knowledge that terrorism is still frowned upon by the majority of the population.

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