Algerian army kills three suspected militants, seizes anti-aircraft missiles

Reuters News
|
Posted: Mar 11, 2016 11:19 AM

ALGIERS (Reuters) - Algeria's army said on Friday it had killed three Islamist militants near the eastern city of El Oued and seized a large quantity of weapons including six anti-aircraft missiles.

One of those killed in the operation late on Thursday was Kamel Arabiya, a senior militant and veteran of Algeria's conflict in the 1990s, the defense ministry said in a statement.

Arabiya led the local brigade of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and according to news reports may have recently pledged allegiance Islamic State.

The military said it had recovered six Stinger surface-to-air missiles, two explosive belts, three rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, and more than 20 guns.

Following the raid, a security source said the army was on high alert because of the risk from neighboring Libya, where militants have taken advantage of a security vacuum to build their presence in the region.

Algeria has slowly emerged from a conflict with armed Islamists in the 1990s that left as many as 200,000 dead, but still sees occasional militant violence in parts of the country.

It is considered a key Western ally in the fight against Islamist extremism in North Africa.

(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi; Writing by Aidan Lewis; Editing by Dominic Evans)