Algerian security forces killed 10 Islamist rebels in an ambush, state radio reported yesterday, while in a separate development a Canadian firm said an Algerian employed kidnapped by insurgents had been freed.
The security forces, acting on a tip, mounted the ambush last Saturday in the region of M’sila, 400 km (250 miles) east of Algiers, the radio report said. It said a “large quantity” of weapons had been seized during the operation.
Insurgents operating under the name al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb carry out sporadic bombings and kidnappings in Algeria, though the level of violence has subsided dramatically in the past few years.
Officials say that they have killed or captured hundreds of the insurgents while many others have been persuaded to lay down their arms, leaving only a small hard core of active fighters.
In a separate development, Canadian construction firm SNC-Lavalin said yesterday one of its Algerian employees, who was kidnapped by insurgents southeast of Algiers on January 4, has been freed.
“I can confirm that our engineer was released last Thursday safe and sound, and we are very relieved,” Leslie Quinton, the firm’s Vice-President for Global Corporate Communications, said in an email sent to Reuters.
“There are no other details available because an investigation is currently under way by local authorities,” Quinton said.
SNC-Lavalin is one of the biggest foreign players in Algeria’s infrastructure sector. Its projects include water desalinisation plants, gas treatment facilities and housing construction.
The kidnapped engineer was working on the construction of a water treatment plant.