Suicide car bomb targets Algerian police

AP News
Posted: Mar 03, 2012 10:40 AM
Suicide car bomb targets Algerian police

A four wheel drive vehicle packed with explosives plowed into the headquarters of the national police in an Algerian city deep in the Sahara Desert, wounding at least 23 people, the state news agency reported.

The Toyota crashed into the entrance of the building in Tamanrasset, 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers) south of the capital at 7:45 a.m., wounding 15 officers as well as five firemen, in addition to three bystanders, the report said.

One officer was in critical condition, it added.

Hospital officials told The Associated Press earlier that at least 26 people were being treated at the local hospital and a local journalist contacted by the AP said there were at least five police officers dead.

The reason for the discrepancy was not clear, but conflicting reports on casualties are common in the aftermath of attacks. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the attack.

Algeria has been battling a local branch of the militant al-Qaida network for decades, though there has never been an attack in this remote city deep in the Sahara.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb is mostly based in the north of the country, near the capital, where it carries out most of its attacks. The group is also involved in smuggling operations and kidnapping in the Sahel region deep in the south near the borders of Mali and Mauritania.