ALGIERS: Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility Thursday for an April ambush in Algeria’s restive Kabylie region that killed 11 soldiers.
“On the night of April 19, mujahedeen ambushed an army convoy in the Iboudrarene region… The toll was around 30 soldiers killed or wounded, some of them seriously,” said a statement posted online.
At the time, a security source said gunmen in the AQIM bastion of Iboudrarene, east of Algiers, had ambushed the convoy and killed 11 soldiers and wounded five others.
The attack was the deadliest on the military in years and came two days after ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was reelected for a fourth term.
The 77-year-old, who had cast his vote from a wheelchair, has long been seen as the leader who helped restore stability to Algeria after the devastating civil war of the 1990s.
The convoy was returning to barracks after helping to secure the election, during which clashes broke out in Kabylie between police and anti-Bouteflika youths.
The AQIM statement said only one militant was killed in the attack, identifying him as Abu Anas. Algerian officials said three died.
Islamist-linked violence rocked Algeria in the 1990s but has declined considerably in recent years, although jihadists still operate in the mountainous Kabylie region.
The previously biggest attack there by Islamist groups was in April 2011, when 10 soldiers were killed at a military post in Azazga, east of the regional capital Tizi Ouzou.