Car Bombs in Algerian Capital Kill 45
Deadly Explosions in Algiers
In from ALGIERS, Algeria car bombs exploded minutes apart Tuesday in central Algiers, heavily damaging U.N. buildings and ripping the facade off the wing of a government office. Officials said 45 people were killed, and that 12 U.N. employees were missing.
Suspicions quickly focused on the North African wing of Al~
Qaida. The date, the 11th could point to an Islamic terror link. Al~Qaida in Islamic North Africa claimed responsibility for attacks on April 11 that hit the prime minister’s office and a police station, killing 33 people.
“We are looking through the rubble for people,” said Jean Fabre of the U.N. Development program in Geneva, after speaking with Marc Destanne De Bernis, the agency’s top official in the Algerian capital.
One employee of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees was killed and 12 employees from various U.N. agencies were missing, said Marie Heuze, spokeswoman for the world body in Geneva.
If all the missing are found to be dead, it would be the deadliest assault on the U.N. since the Aug. 19, 2003, truck bombing of the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad that killed 22 people, including top envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.
U.N. Secretary~General Ban Ki~moon strongly condemned Tuesday’s bombings.
“This is just unacceptable,” said a somber Ban, who was on Indonesia’s resort island of Bali for a U.N. climate conference. “I would like to condemn it in the strongest terms. It cannot be justified in any circumstances.”
The Bush administration added its denunciation.
“We condemn this attack on the United Nations office by these enemies of humanity who attack the innocent. The United States stands with the people of Algeria, as well as the United Nations as they deal with this senseless violence,” said National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe.
Ban said the blasts destroyed the offices of the U.N. Development Program and severely damaged the offices of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.
The bombs exploded around 9:30 a.m. [3:30 a.m. EST] and blew off the front off the U.N. refugee agency building and also damaged the main U.N. building housing the U.N. Development Program and other agencies across the street.
“We can’t even say for certain that the U.N. was being targeted but one can certainly start to draw that conclusion since this explosion took place in a very narrow street right between two UN buildings,” Redmond told CNN.
He added that one UNHCR staff member was killed.
The U.N. offices are in the upscale Hydra neighborhood of Algiers, which houses many foreign embassies and has a substantial foreign population.
At least 15 people were killed in the Hydra attack, said a national official at the civil protection agency who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. The other attack, which killed at least 30 people, was in the Ben Aknoun neighborhood of Algiers, where the Constitutional Council is located, the official said.
The official APS news agency, citing the Interior Ministry, reported 17 people were killed and 67 injured. It said rescuers were still pulling people from the rubble.
Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni said the Constitutional Council, which oversees elections, was the other target, adding that the attacks appeared to have been caused by car bombs.
“An attack like this is among the easiest actions to carry out. I have always said that we are not safe from these sorts of attacks,” he told reporters in remarks carried by APS.
“Everything depends on the degree of our vigilance and our degree of mobilization against this. You will have noticed that there are fewer and fewer attacks of this nature. That means that the groups carrying out these sorts of attacks are facing more and more problems.”
Public radio, Algiers Network 3, said the bombs went off about 10 minutes apart.
Some victims of one of the attacks had been riding a school bus, APS said.
“I was in my office and heard an explosion in the distance. When I went downstairs, I was hit by another explosion, just in front of our building,” said an unidentified man swathed in bloody dressings who spoke from his hospital bed in footage shown on France~2.
TV video showed a badly damaged building with windows blown out, burned out cars in a street and a charred bus.
Algeria has been battling Islamic insurgents since the early 1990s, when the army canceled the second round of the country’s first multiparty elections, stepping in to prevent likely victory by an Islamic fundamentalist party.
Islamist armed groups then turned to force to overthrow the government, with up to 200,000 people killed in the ensuing violence.
The last year has seen a series of bombings against state targets, many of them suicide attacks.
Recent bombings have been claimed by Al~Qaida in Islamic North Africa. That was the name adopted in January after the remnants of the insurgency, the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, or GSPC, formally linked with Al~Qaida.
Once focused on toppling the Algerian government, the group has now turned its sights on international holy war and the fight against Western interests. French counterterrorism officials say it is drawing members from across North Africa.
A Sept. 6 attack during President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s visit to the eastern city of Batna killed 22 people, and a suicide bombing two days later on a coast guard barracks in the town of Dellys left at least 28 dead.
Thank you AP News and Associated Press writers HASSANE MEFTAHI, Alexander G. Higgins and Bradley S. Klapper in Geneva and John Heilprin at the United Nations who
contributed to this report.
Myself, I can not justify anything like this. I can not accept that inoccents have to be hurt and killed to make a point.
I will never understand this behavior or radical behavior. It is NOT in my being, my soul or my spirit!
I pray that this will one day cease and I will pray for those who were hurt, loss and who families and friends were effected by this SENSELESS act of VIOLENCE!
Being form the 60’s, I still say…WHAT IF THEY HAD A WAR AND NOBODY CAME!?!?!?!?
~The Baby Boomer Queen~