Algeria Launches Offensive Against al-Qaeda in Maghreb

Article Summary
The Algerian army is in the midst of a military campaign against al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, as well as other terrorist organizations, writes Atef Kadadra. In certain mountainous regions, the army has already eliminated militants who were allegedly tied to the organization or other regional groups.

There are clear indications that the Algerian army will likely enter into a violent military confrontation with many followers of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) — previously known as the “Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat.” The Ministry of Defense bolstered its military activities in specific regions across Algeria, as the military confrontation is expected to drag on until the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

According to security data from different provinces, the army has mobilized troops in preparation for potential military operations. Inhabitants of the mountainous areas in Tizi Ouzou province said that military patrols have been scouting the area for the past several days. The Algerian army’s Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Ahmed Kaid Saleh also visited the provinces that shelter “remnants” of terrorist groups. The heavy military presence in these provinces is reminiscent of the military parade that was presented to President Abdelaziz Bouteflika during the military decorations ceremonies on Algeria’s Independence Day.

The security situation in the Kabylia region has been relatively calm since the bombings of the area’s security headquarters in the heart of Tizi Ouzu city and a security center in Bordj Meaniel during the month of Ramadan last year. Over the past several months, terrorist groups have been abducting people and holding them hostage. However, the military presence in some areas suggests that the army has been taking proactive measures against AQIM and any potential terrorist attacks.

Using gunships and aerial bombardments, the army managed to penetrate the mountainous Mizrana region in Tizi Ouzu province. The first round of military operations left five terrorists dead. The army also killed a terrorist in the highland town of Zimmouri, which is located in the southeastern part of Boumerdes province. According to security reports, the military forces managed to eliminate some terrorists and arrested others, while some individuals surrendered. The army also dismantled explosives and terrorist networks and destroyed a number of weapon caches.

Despite the uncertainty around the formation of the new government, it seems that conditions are favorable for the Algerian army to restart major anti-terrorism operations due to the absence of key political events. Previously, AQIM was active in the country’s important political events, such as inciting the boycott of certain pieces of legislation.

Lieutenant General Saleh’s visit to the provinces suggests that there are or will be major military operations in the region — particularly in the provinces of Batna, Jijel, Khenchala and the areas within the Bou Kahil mountains.

There are indications that the militants in these provinces are linked to terrorist groups in Tunisia and Libya. Both of those countries — and Libya in particular — suffer from security instability. In Khenchala, the People’s National Army has besieged terrorist groups that are taking shelter in the area’s mountains. Army patrols are spread throughout the mountainous region and the provinces of Djelfa, M’Sila and Ain Defla.

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Found in: war on terror, tizi ouzou province, terrorism in algeria, terrorism, security, people’s national army, military, khenchala, algerian army, algeria, al-qaeda in the islamic maghreb, al-qaeda, ahmed kaid saleh, abdelaziz bouteflika
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