Four people have been killed in a roadside bomb aimed at a military convoy east of the Algerian capital.
Another 19 people were injured in the attack on Sunday. Algerian media report that the bomb had been intended for a military convoy but was detonated prematurely and hit a bus transporting people between Les Issers and Bordj Menail, 70 kilometres east of the capital Algiers.
Algerian news service El Watan said that gunshots were also heard. The road was closed for several hours and only re-opened after all traces of the attack had been removed.
An Algerian security official said that Algerian forces killed four Islamist militants yesterday who were linked to the bomb attack. One soldier died during the gunfight, which occurred in the Beni Khelifa forest some 45 kilometres from Algiers.
Al Qaeda’s north African branch frequently attacks security forces in rural areas of Algeria. Algeria is still emerging from nearly two decades of conflict between security forces and Islamist militants that, at its peak in the 1990s, killed an estimated 200 000 people.
In the past few years the violence has been reduced significantly, but the militants – who now operate as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) – still carry out ambushes, kidnappings and occasional bombings.
Last Wednesday a bomb targeting a police convoy exploded in the district of Boumerdes outside Algiers, but no casualties were reported.