On Aug. 26, a leading AQIM-linked smuggler was killed in northern Mali.
The smuggler, Ibrahim Bahanga, was said to have been a key player in the
flow of weapons from Libya.
"This shows once again that terrorist groups are trying through this
despicable act to loosen the stranglehold imposed on them by
security forces over the last few weeks," an Algerian Defense Ministry
statement said on Aug. 27.
Officials said the attack highlighted the resurgence of Al Qaida
in the Islamic Maghreb. After more than a year of relative quiet, AQIM was
succeeding in strikes on police and military patrols and facilities.
Security forces sealed off Cherchel, about 200 kilometers west of
Algiers, in search for AQIM operatives. Officials said more than 20 people
were injured in an attack in which AQIM claimed responsibility on Aug. 28.
"The army high command reiterates its determination to eliminate these
criminal gangs and ensure peace throughout the country," the ministry said.
Officials said authorities were on alert for mass-casualty AQIM attacks
during the Muslim fast month of Ramadan. They said the insurgency network
has sought to demonstrate its capability to conduct suicide bombings,
particularly against the military and police.