18 dead in Algeria military school bombing: medic

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Eighteen people were killed and dozens wounded late Friday in a suicide bombing at the Cherchell military academy west of Algiers, a hospital source said.

Eight of those wounded in the attack, the first against the academy since a terror campaign started in the 1990s in Algeria,were in very serious condition, the French-language daily El Watan reported on its website.

The attack by two suicide bombers took place 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of the Algerian capital, around 10 minutes after the breaking of the Ramadan fast at 1830 GMT.

The bombers, one on a motorcycle, set off explosions a few seconds apart in front of the entrance to the officers’ mess hall, El Watan said.

A hospital source said the dead included 16 soldiers and two civilians.

The wounded were evacuated to hospitals in the nearby towns of Sidi Ghiles and Tipaza, as well as to the army’s central Ain-Naadja hospital in Algiers, the source said.

According to El Watan, the suicide bombers tried to cause as many casualties as possible by targeting the officers’ mess just as all the soldiers were assembled to break the fast.

The reports were not confirmed by official sources.

Authorities generally remain tight-lipped about such incidents which have not ended despite the policy of national reconciliation adopted in the early 2000s by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Under this policy many Islamist fighters have been offered pardons in exchange for laying down their arms.

The Cherchell Academy was set up by France during the war after the Allied landings in North Africa on November 8, 1942. It remained an officers’ college after Algerian independence.

Ramadan is generally considered a good time for holy war, or jihad, by Islamist groups. Since the fast started in early August, there have been many attacks east of Algiers, especially in Kabylia, targeting the army and police.

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