June 7, 2015 / 3:43 PM / 5 years ago

Al Qaeda's North African wing claims two Algerian attacks

ALGIERS (Reuters) - The North African wing of al Qaeda has claimed two attacks on Algerian military and security forces in the east of the country that killed at least five people, the U.S.-based SITE jihadist monitoring service said on Sunday.

Attacks are rarer in Algeria since the end of its civil war with Islamist militants in the 1990s. But al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is still active, and another splinter group has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

SITE said AQIM claimed responsibility on a social media account for a roadside bomb that killed an Algerian army colonel and wounded two others last week, and an attack that killed four members of a local neighborhood watch brigade. The attacks took place near Batna, 500 km (300 miles) east of Algiers.

AQIM’s leadership is still believed to be hiding in mountains east of the capital, in an area dubbed the “Triangle of Death” because of Islamist militant activity during the civil war.

Caliphate Soldiers, a faction which split from AQIM to pledge alliance to Islamic State, is also active. But army special forces killed 25 Caliphate fighters in an ambush last month, including its new leader.

Algeria’s military has been carrying out intensive operations against the splinter group since late last year, when it kidnapped and beheaded a French tourist who was hiking in the hills east of the capital.

Reporting by Patrick Markey; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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