Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has claimed responsibility for twin suicide bombings that killed 18 people Friday at a military academy in Algeria. At least 26 others were wounded in the attack.
The North African offshoot of the international Al Qaeda terrorist organization claimed in a statement that 36 people had been killed and more than 35 wounded at the Cherchell academy, west of Algiers.
One of the bombers was riding a motorcycle when he detonated the explosives. The second terrorist detonated his bomb a few seconds later. Both were in front of the entrance to the academy's officers' mess hall, when they carried out the attack, timed to occur just as all the soldiers had gathered to break the Ramadan fast.
Although most of the dead were Algerians, among the victims were two Syrians lieutenants-colonel, Ahmad Ahmad and Anouar Sa'ad, a diplomatic source said. A Tunisian officer, Major Bechir Ouerghi, was also killed.
The explosives-packed motorcycle was intended to punish the Algerian government for supporting the regime of former Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, AQIM said.
A statement titled “A Gift for Eid” was emailed to the AFP news bureau in Morocco claiming responsibility for “the two martyr operations” Friday which “targeted the heart of Algeria's Cherchell military institution.” The authenticity of the email, could not be immediately verified.
The text of the statement described the military academy as the “most important symbol of the Algerian regime” -- the reason it was targeted by the terrorist organization.
Algeria did not recognize Libya's National Transitional Council government following the victory of rebel forces in Tripoli, nor did Algiers ever call for Qaddafi to step down.
The Algerian government last week maintained that it had kept a “strict neutrality in refusing to intervene in one way or another in the internal affairs” of Libya.
On Monday morning, the Algerian foreign ministry informed the United Nations that Qaddafi's wife and daughter, two of his sons and their children had arrived in the country.
The de facto Libyan transitional government, infuriated, said it would demand their extradition from Algeria and warned others in a statement against sheltering Qaddafi family members abroad.