Algeria confronts returning veterans in form of growing ISIL presence

Special to

CAIRO — Algeria has begun confronting the new presence of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.

Security sources said ISIL has been organizing cells and conducting operations in remote areas of eastern Algeria. They said ISIL was working through existing Islamic militias, some of them linked to Al Qaida.

“The cells were formed by those who fought with ISIL in Iraq and Syria,” a source said. “There are some foreigners, but most of the new terrorist cells are locals.”

On Dec. 21, the Algerian Army was said to have battled an ISIL cell in the Boumerdes province, some 50 kilometers east of Algiers. The sources said at least three ISIL fighters were killed near the mountain town of Sidi Daoud.

The Defense Ministry said the army captured a large amount of weapons and explosives after the battle with ISIL. The ministry said the equipment included binoculars as well as mobile phones.

Over the last two months ISIL has reported a presence in Algeria. One group, called Soldiers of the Caliphate, pledged allegiance to ISIL in Boumerdes.

The army has reinforced troops along border and remote areas of Algeria. Chief of Staff Gen. Qaid Saleh has announced a program to enhance border units, including equipment, living conditions and training.

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