Suicide bomber kills Algerian soldier during border checkpoint stop

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - A suicide car bomb attack near the Malian border has killed an Algerian soldier amid a rise in deadly attacks carried out by militant groups in the remote North African region.

The Defence Ministry said that at 10.50am local time on Sunday, an all-terrain vehicle loaded with explosives was detonated next to a military detachment guarding the border area near Timiaouine.

“The soldier in charge of access managed to stop the suspect vehicle from entering; however, the suicide attacker blew up the vehicle, causing the death of the solider on guard,” it said.

Acting Deputy Chief of Staff Maj Gen Said Chanegriha offered his condolences to the family of the “martyred” soldier and praised “the great vigilance shown by the unit which was able to foil this desperate attempt for media attention”.

Maj Gen Chanegriha also praised “the determination of ANP [military] forces to eradicate the scourge of terrorism and to track down criminals across the country, to preserve the security and stability of the state.”

The attack, which has not been claimed, is the first in southern Algeria in years.

In January 2013, members of Al Qaeda attacked a gas plant near In Amenas, close to the Libyan border, taking dozens captive. Forty hostages died along with the 29 militants.

Sunday’s attack occurred as Algeria is seeking a greater role in efforts to resolve the conflicts in Libya and the sub-Sahara region of North Africa.

That both conflicts sit on the country’s border is a cause of concern in Algiers that more violence could spill over the porous desert boundary.

Worried by the risk of instability in southern Algeria, Algiers served in 2014 and 2015 as a mediator between the Malian government and armed rebels.

Fighting has increased in Mali in recent months with international forces led by France helping the government to push back the tribal rebel and extremist groups. The conflict has spilled over the borders to Niger and Burkina Faso.

The last suicide attack against Algerian forces was in August 2019.

Two Algerian police were killed when a suicide bomber detonated his vest while trying to enter a police station in Tiaret, 250 kilometres southwest of Algiers. ISIS claimed that attack.

A Eurocopter Tiger is seen at the French Military base in Gao on November 8, 2019. Thirteen soldiersi were killed after two helicopters collided during an operation AFP

France has more than 4,500 troops in Africa's Sahel region. AP Photo

The helicopter crash was the deadliest attack since the French intervention began in 2013. AFP

In total, 38 French soldiers have been killed in the region. AFP

A French soldier secure a perimeter during a break in the military convoy's trip between Gossi and Hombori in March. AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron, center left, visits soldiers of Operation Barkhane in Gao in 2017. He expressed his “deep sadness” at the news. AP

Earlier this month, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that terrorist groups have strengthened their foothold across the Sahel region. Reuters

A French gunner sits in a Puma helicopter flying near Tessalit in 2013. AFP

French soldiers of France's Barkhane are pictured next to a Eurocopter Tiger helicopter during the 2017 visit of the French President in Gao. AFP

Eurocopter Tiger helicopter of France's Barkhane mission is seen in central Mali in 2017. AFP

Updated: February 10, 2020 11:15 AM

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