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Algerian bombers strike again
However, the militants have proved themselves to be resilient. Bombings and ambushes over the past week have caused at least 65 deaths, making it the bloodiest in years, and the toll so far for August stands at more than 80. That is the worst month in a long time.
It is true that the security forces have been effective in containing the armed groups in much of the countryside, apart from the Kabylie region.
And the intense rural-based violence of the 1990s is highly unlikely to reoccur – an understanding struck in 1997 between the army and the original leaders of the Islamist rebellion laid the foundations for the end of the worst of Algeria’s political violence.
But a shift in tactics in 2007 to Iraq-style suicide bombings – delivered by car, motorbike and in person – has been a relative success for the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. There is apparently no shortage of young men willing to offer themselves for duty as kamikaze attackers.
Twinned with use of the al Qaeda brand, they have helped the insurgent leaders cast a pall over Algeria’s efforts to emerge from its troubled past.
Quite why that should be is a puzzle. The state is much stronger, and wealthier, and better equipped than it was in the 1990s. It is no longer an international pariah. So why are its security forces making such heavy weather of the fight? Is it because the militants are strong? Or is it because the security forces are weakened? Is the overall policy of offering amnesty to the rebels sensible? Anecdotal evidence suggests that the reconciliation policy of the government is a major factor in demotivating the army and police. What do you think?