Radical Group Threatens More Suicide Commandos During Ramadan
ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) _ Islamic extremists took responsibility for a deadly car bombing and promised more attacks, and an official of Algeria’s former ruling party was found decapitated, security forces said Sunday.
The claim, published by the Arab-language newspaper Al-Hayat, said two men had driven the explosives-packed car that blew up in front of Algiers police headquarters Jan. 30, killing 42 people and injuring nearly 300.
It was the bloodiest single attack in Algeria’s 3-year-old Islamic insurgency, and the first by suicide bombers.
``The Armed Islamic Group have men who love to die,″ read the text of the claim in Al-Hayat.
An estimated 30,000 people have been killed in the conflict between extremists and security forces, which began when national elections were canceled to thwart a fundamentalist victory.
Meanwhile, security forces Sunday confirmed a report in the Horizons newspaper that Ahmed Kasmi, a member of the National Liberation Front’s central committee, was decapitated last week.
The paper said that Kasmi’s head was found Thursday at a bus station in Khemis-Miliana, 60 miles west of Algiers. He had been kidnapped two days earlier.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the killing.
Kasmi was the second member of the party’s central committee to be slain. The party ruled Algeria for nearly three decades and is blamed for the widespread corruption and mismanagement that has drained the nation’s economy.
Al-Hayat, based in London and published in several Arab capitals, said it received the claim of responsibility Saturday from the Armed Islamic Group, the most radical of the armed groups trying to topple the military-installed government. The group has taken responsibility for the Air France hijacking on Christmas Eve in which three passengers were killed.
The authenticity of the text was not immediately confirmed, but the paper has received such claims in the past that have later proved true.
``The blessed month of Ramadan will be that of death, combat and victories,″ read the text, signed by Abou Abderrahmane Amine, thought to be the current leader of the Armed Islamic Group. Ramadan began in Algiers last Wednesday.
The claim said the police headquarters, described as a ``base for torture and killing,″ was the target and the killing of civilians was a mistake, for which ``the group is obliged to ask for pardon.″
President Liamine Zeroual has vowed to eradicate extremists while preparing for presidential elections to be held before the end of the year.
The media kept up criticism of France on Sunday for alleged interference in the North African country’s affairs.
The dispute was triggered by a proposal by French President Francois Mitterrand Friday for a European conference to work for peace in Algeria, using ideas contained in a platform worked out in January by Algerian opposition parties, including the outlawed Islamic Salvation Front.