Source AP ©

Anti-terrorist sweep left 29 people killed in Algeria

Algerian army has admitted an operation against a group suspected of links to al-Qaida. Twenty two militants and seven soldiers were killed.

Security officials would not immediately comment on the sweep, which reportedly targeted the region of Tebessa, 400 miles east of the capital, Algiers.

Anti-terrorist forces launched an operation Thursday based on information from 11 suspects arrested last week and believed tied to a suicide bombing that targeted President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's convoy Sept. 6, the daily newspaper Liberte reported.

That bombing left at least 22 dead, and was claimed by a group called al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa.

For about a month, about 20 fighters believed involved with the al-Qaida affiliate have been hiding out in the forests in the Tebessa region, Liberte said.

The report said the sweep killed 22 Islamic militants. Seven soldiers were killed when a homemade bomb exploded, it said.

Algeria has seen a revival of violence in recent months after a period of relative quiet following an insurgency that ripped the country apart in the 1990s and has left as many as 200,000 dead.

Isolated hard-line Islamic groups have now aligned with al-Qaida to recover ground, delivering a string of setbacks this year to government efforts to bring calm and prosperity to this oil- and gas-rich country.

In recent months, the army repeatedly has bombed and burned forests where rebels are believed to be hiding.

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