2 Teachers, 8 police killed in Algerian ambush
ALGIERS, Algeria—Al-Qaida-linked militants killed two teachers and eight police escorts as they brought copies of tests back from an examination center near the Algerian capital, a local official and Algerian media said Wednesday.
The militants triggered a roadside bomb as the teachers returned Tuesday evening from a high school entry exam in the town of Timezrit, some 49 miles (80 kilometers) east of the capital, Algiers.
The teachers' car was hit by the bomb, which also seriously injured the vehicle's driver and the manager of Timezrit's exam center, said Ali Hadjeres, the town's deputy mayor.
The militants then opened fire on the two police cars escorting them, Hadjeres told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
He vowed that "Despite this hard blow, the exam session will continue."
The attack was one of the first in recent months that appeared to deliberately target civilians. But Algerian teachers are civil servants, and militants in this north African country usually justify targeting government officials because they accuse the government of being untruthful to Islam.
There was no immediate comment from Algerian security services on Wednesday. But the El Watan and Liberte daily newspapers reported that a large army sweep was under way Wednesday in the suspected militant strongholds around Boumerdes, a larger town near Timezrit.
El Watan said helicopters were dropping bombs around the area, in which the militants frequently operate.
Liberte reported an estimated 30 gunmen took part in Tuesday's ambush. They are suspected of belonging to a pocket of insurgents who have been resisting an extensive army offensive east of the capital.
A week ago, militants killed 10 soldiers from an elite paratroopers unit and injured 15 in a gunbattle between the towns of Batna and Biskra, 450 kilometers (280 miles) southeast of Algiers.
Algerian militants are a leftover from a near civil war between the government and Islamists that killed up to an estimated 200,000 people during the 1990s.
Most of the violence has since abated, but hard-liners stepped up suicide bombings and attacks after joining Osama bin Laden's terror network in 2006 under the name al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa.
Associated Press Writer Aomar Ouali contributed to this report.