Algeria trouble with Islamists not over: Two guards killed in gas pipeline attack

Resurgence of AQIM violence

ALGIERS - Two security guards protecting a gas pipeline have been killed and seven others wounded in an attack by Islamists southeast of the Algerian capital, local residents said on Monday.
The guards, who were attacked late on Sunday at their quarters in Djebahia, 125 kilometres (80 miles) southeast of Algiers, were part of an armed civilian unit protecting a gas pipeline in the Bouira region.
An "armed Islamist group" carried out the attack around 9:00 pm (2000 GMT), and after an hour-long firefight two guards were found dead, the residents said, citing survivors of the assault.
A medical source said the bodies of the two guards killed were transferred to Mohamed Boudiaf de Bouira hospital, where five of their colleagues were taken for treatment of gunshot wounds.
The army has launched a search operation for the assailants who fled, the residents said.
The attack comes nearly a fortnight after a deadly Islamist attack on a gas plant in Algeria's southern Sahara desert, in a hostage-taking siege that ended with the deaths of almost 40 captives, mostly foreigners.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the global network's North Africa franchise, has its roots in Algeria, where it is active in the Bouira region and in neighbouring Boumerdes and Tizi Ouzou, regularly carrying out attacks against military outposts there.
The January 16 kidnapping operation was claimed by a group calling itself "Signatories in Blood," directed by former AQIM member Mokhtar Belmokhtar.
Sunday's attack victims were guarding a pipeline carrying gas from the Sahara desert's Hassi R'Mel field to the north of the country.
Gas pipeline attacks by armed Islamist groups were common during Algeria civil war of the 1990s.