Al Qaida sought to intimidate Algerian voters in today's elections

Thursday, May 17, 2007 | Posted by

CAIRO — Al Qaida sought to disrupt Algerian national elections today and may have succeeded. At midday, observers reported the turnout of voters was light.

Al Qaida was believed to have planted bombs on the eve of parliamentary elections that killed a police officer and injured five others. The bombings took place in Constantine on Wednesday in wake of an Al Qaida demand to boycott the elections.
"This was an act of sabotage against the Algerian democratic system," Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni said.

The attacks were minor compared to the suicide bombings on April 11 in which 33 people were killed in Algiers, Middle East Newsline reported. The latest strikes comprised of two homemade bombs hidden in plastic bags. One bomb was detonated in a hospital and the other in a traffic circle.

Officials said police foiled Al Qaida's plans to plant the bombs in a supermarket. Police chased a suspect who abandoned the bombs and fled.

"The best way to respond to such attacks is a strong turnout for the parliamentary elections," Zerhouni said.
On Thursday, heavy security blanketed major cities, with 15,000 police deployed in Algiers alone. The Interior Ministry ordered a ban on trucks and the closure of markets during elections.

Al Qaida has warned Algerians to boycott the elections. Over the last six months, the Islamic insurgency movement has targeted government installations, security forces and foreign workers.

"These elections are nothing but a farce that is no different from other farces seen in Algeria," Al Qaida network leader Abu Mussib Abdul Wadud, also known as Abdul Malik Droudkel, said. "Express your opinion and renounce these elections. You only need to boycott or abstain from voting."