ALGIERS (Reuters) - Islamist militants have killed four local Algerian guardsman and burned their bodies in the region of Batna, 500 km east of the capital, a security source said on Wednesday.
There have been fewer such attacks since Algeria ended its decade-long war with armed Islamists. But the North African branch of al Qaeda and a local affiliate of the militant group Islamic State are still active in remote areas.
The four killed on Tuesday were members of the "Patriots" a semi-official paramilitary force trained and armed by the government to work as village guards in rural areas during the height of the 1990s war.
"It was an ambush, the terrorists knew the itinerary of the Patriots, they shot them in their car," the security source, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.
The army has launched a search operation in the region to chase the militants, the source said.
In Ain Defla, 100 km west of the capital Algiers, the army also killed two militants in an ambush on Tuesday, according to a statement released by the defense ministry.
More than 200,000 people died in Algeria's bloody Islamist conflict, and the North African state is now a key partner in the Western campaign against Islamist militancy in the Sahel region.
(Reporting By Lamine Chikhi; Editing by Patrick Markey and Hugh Lawson)