A Mali-based Islamist group Friday claimed responsibility for a dawn attack against the regional headquarters of the paramilitary police in the center of the Algerian town of Ouargla in which one person was killed and three were wounded.
The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) said in a text message to AFP in Mali’s capital Bamako that a young Algerian from the southern town of Ouargla had carried out the attack.
“The cells of the MUJAO branch in Algeria succeeded in carrying out a rapid punishment for the Algerian authorities,” spokesman Adnan Abu Walid Sahraoui said.
“His Toyota 4×4 car (carried) almost 1,300 kilograms of explosives,” and “Algerian intelligence did not understand the situation as they should have,” he added.
According to initial reports cited by the APS news agency, the attack was carried out “by a terrorist who sought to break into the headquarters building in his vehicle, after an exchange of fire with gendarmes.”
The term “terrorist” is generally used in Algeria to describe armed Islamist militants, mainly active in the northeast of the country.
The MUJAO spokesman said the group accused Algeria of encouraging Tuareg rebels to go to war with it, although the secular MNLA Tuaregs had three months ago got together with the Islamists to take control of the vast north of Mali.
The Islamists chased the MNLA out of Gao in the northeast on Wednesday after vicious fighting that left at least 20 dead, witnesses said.
On Friday the Islamists were reinforced by jihadists who arrived from Algeria, various sources said.
Ouargla is a town of almost 150,000 people, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) southeast of the coastal capital.