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Algeria foils militants mall attack plot: Govt newspaper

AFP , Wednesday 29 Jun 2016
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Algerian security services foiled an attempt by Islamic State group-linked militants to attack a shopping mall in the eastern city of Setif, a government newspaper reported on Wednesday.

The Park Mall in Setif, 300 kilometres (190 miles) southwest of the capital Algiers, attracts some 40,000 visitors a year, El Massa said.

The attack was planned by a group that lost eight members who were killed in a May 31 firefight with the army near Guelta Zerka, 60 kilometres (25 miles) east of Setif, the paper said.

It quoted security sources as saying the group was linked to IS cells active in neighbouring Libya.

El Massa said the group had planned spectacular attacks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which started on June 6.

A civil war during the 1990s that pitted Islamist militants against the Algerian government left 200,000 people dead.

The militants often intensified their attacks in Ramadan, considering it an auspicious time for jihad.

Despite a peace and reconciliation charter signed in 2005 and intended to turn the page on the conflict, militants still frequently target security forces.

Since the start of March, more than 70 jihadists have been killed in military operations in the east and south of the country, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources.

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