Militants kill 24 Algerian policemen


Insurgents killed 24 Algerian paramilitary police in an ambush on their convoy late today, a local newspaper reported today.

There was no official comment on the report but if confirmed it would be the deadliest single attack in months in Algeria, where the government is fighting an Islamist insurgency allied to the al-Qaeda network.

It took place on a highway between the settlements of El Meher and El Mansourah about 180 km east of the capital, the Echorouknewspaper cited security sources and local people as saying.

It said the attackers first activated two improvised explosive devices and then opened fire on the convoy. The insurgents left, taking with them arms, weapons and six police off-road vehicles, said the newspaper.

Algeria has been struggling for nearly two decades to get to grips with Islamist insurgents who now operate under the banner of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

The number of attacks has been in overall decline but there has been an upsurge in violence over the past few weeks.

Insurgents killed five paramilitary policemen late in May and a week later shot dead nine soldiers. At the start of this month AQIM killed a British man, Edwin Dyer. The group had been holding him hostage in neighbouring Mali.