CAIRO Ñ Algeria's military has continued its offensive, killing up
to 40 suspected Islamic insurgents over the last week.
Algerian sources said the insurgents included foreign nationals believed
linked to Al Qaida. The sources said the foreigners came from such countries
as Afghanistan and Pakistan. They said 18 suspected insurgents were captured
in the Batna region over the weekend.
[On late Sunday, Algerian security forces helped foil a hijacking
an Air Algeria flight from Paris to Algiers. The official Algerian Press
Service reported that three suspects, who did not carry weapons, were
overpowered and arrested.]
The military offensive came in wake of an attack by the Salafist Brigade
for Combat and Call. The Salafist ambush on Jan. 4 in Batna resulted in the
death of 43 commandos.
The military offensive has included the use of attack helicopters,
mortars and armored vehicles. Algerian newspapers said the operation has
been conducted in several provinces in eastern Algeria.
Algerian officials have accused Al Qaida of helping the Salafist and the
Armed Islamic Group in recent attacks on the military. They said Al Qaida
was responding to the killing of a regional operation chief by Algerian
forces in September.
Islamic insurgents have also continued their attacks on the military and
security forces. Algerian newspapers said five security officers and
soldiers were wounded in clashes in the Tebsa province over the weekend.