Al-Qaeda claims responsibility for terror strike on Algeria
( CBCNEWS ) - The North African wing of al-Qaeda has claimed responsibility for two deadly bombings that rocked Algeria Wednesday, reports say.
Arabic broadcaster Al-Jazeera showed a newsflash reporting that a spokesman from the terrorist organization phoned the news network with the claim.
The two successive bomb blasts, one of which struck the prime minister's office, killed at least 23 people and wounded about 160, Algeria's official news agency reported.
Al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa went formerly by the name Salafist Group for Call and Combat. On a website posting Wednesday, the group also claimed responsibility for Tuesday's suicide bombings in Morocco.
Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem was not hurt in the blasts in downtown Algiers. Speaking to reporters later, he called the attacks a "cowardly, criminal terrorist act."
Witnesses said they saw bodies of dead and badly injured people being taken out on stretchers, and reports of death tolls were rising.
The APS news service reported at least nine people were killed and 32 injured in the 10:50 a.m. blast at the government building in the capital of Algiers.
Minutes later, a second explosion tore through the Bab Ezzouar police station just east of Algiers, killing at least eight others and wounding 50, APS said. Not much else was known about the second bombing.
Standing in the rubble outside the government offices, Belkhadem expressed bitterness at insurgents who refused offers of amnesty from the government if they turned in their weapons.
"The Algerian people stretched out a hand to them, and they respond with a terrorist act," he said. He declined to say how many were dead or wounded.