By Walid Ramzi
Algerian troops killed six terrorists on Wednesday (February 22nd) during a large-scale raking operation between Issers and Bordj Menaiel. The new figures bring to 17 the total number of armed fighters killed since Monday in the mountainous area east of Boumerdes.
The ANP operation began Sunday after a nearby bus bombing killed four civilians and wounded at least nine others. Sources said the six terrorists killed in the ANP ambush on Wednesday were behind the deadly attack.
During their manhunt for the bombing perpetrators in the Beni Khelifa mountains, ANP troops destroyed several terror bunkers and uncovered weapons. Eight Kalashnikovs and a laptop were seized.
A number of the killed terrorists were identified, including three AQIM emirs. Doulache Abdelmaler was an expert in explosives and a member of the terrorist group operating in Beni Amrane, Tout sur l’Algerie reported. Djerrah brigade member Hadjeress Tarek and al-Thania battalion emir Messouadene Rafik were also among the identified terrorists.
The other slain terrorists have yet to be identified. The security operation is expected to continue for a few more days. The army forces dispatched reinforcements to the area to attack armed groups that fortified themselves in Beni Amrane forests after they were besieged in Tizi Ouzou forests, especially Yakouren and Sidi Ali Bounab.
During the operation, the army also managed to destroy a dozen hideouts, including three located 300 metres away from a residential neighbourhood in Sharafa village, a security source said. The other hideouts were discovered near Beni Khalifa, where security forces found a large number of food, blankets and some materials used in making traditional bombs.
The operation was launched after security authorities received intelligence information that a large terrorist group was preparing to hold an AQIM conference in Beni Khalifa, according to media sources. AQIM chief Abdelmalek Droukdel (alias Abou Moussaab Abdelouadoud) was expected to attend the conference, state-run An-Nasr reported.
Area residents provided direct information after they saw suspicious movements by terrorist groups of unknown numbers at night in the last few days, the newspaper reported. Such movements were believed to be preparatory steps for holding the meeting aimed at restructuring the terrorist group.
Meanwhile, Algerian Interior Minister Dahou Ould Kablia assured that the recent security developments would have no effect on the next legislative election.
Security affairs analyst Ammar Wali said that the recent operations “were carried out following monitoring and surveillance by security agencies after the recent bus attack”.
“The security agencies managed to target the main nucleus of the El-Arkam brigade, one of the most important AQIM’s military arms in Boumerdes and areas parallel to Tizi Ouzou province,” he said. “This brigade is behind 80% of the terrorist operations in the region, especially suicide bombings that target security headquarters.”
The ANP operation will affect “the ability of the armed group to launch spectacular terrorist attacks like the attacks on security patrols and army units in the region”, according to Wali.
A few days before the security sweep, the Algerian defence ministry launched an SMS campaign, calling on citizens to report any type of threats by the “fugitive remnants of terrorism”.
Meanwhile, a security source told Magharebia on the condition of anonymity that the campaign was not linked to possible threats by terrorist groups.
The campaign was designed to encourage citizens’ vigilance and urge them to “show more co-operation with security authorities”, according to the source.