Bomb in crowd in Algeria kills 16(video)
( AP ) - A bomb exploded Thursday in the middle of a crowd awaiting a visit by Algeria's president, killing 16 people and wounding at least 74, hospital and security officials said.
The blast occurred in front of a mosque about 45 minutes before the scheduled arrival of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in the town of Batna, about 280 miles east of the capital, Algiers, the officials said.
Local police said a man between 30 and 35 years old carried the bomb in a bag and walked into the crowd at the Al-Atik mosque. He was behaving strangely and onlookers alerted police, the officials said.
As officers responded, the man threw down the bag and tried to flee. The bomb exploded and it was not immediately clear whether he died or was wounded, police said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Arriving in Batna after the blast, Bouteflika said at the airport that "the only solution was national concordance."
He said Algeria was committed to its peace process and would forge ahead "no matter the price."
Bouteflika said the national reconciliation is part of "an effort for the reconstruction of Algeria, because without political stability there will be no economic and social development."
Batna was the last stop on Bouteflika's trip through eastern Algeria.
Coordinated terrorist attacks killed dozens of people on April 11, when bombs ripped through the Algerian prime minister's office and a police station in an Algiers suburb.
Al-Qaida's wing in North Africa claimed responsibility for the blasts, saying they were carried out by suicide bombers in trucks packed with explosives.
The bombings were a devastating setback for the North African nation's efforts to close a violent chapter in its history - an Islamic insurgency that has killed 200,000 people.