Algerian troops kill six Islamist militants: Ministry

AFP , Monday 21 Mar 2016

Algerian soldiers killed six suspected Islamist militants in an area near the Tunisian border on Monday, the defence ministry said.

They were killed in an "ongoing army operation" in El Oued province, 600 kilometres (370 miles) southeast of Algiers, it said in a statement.

Five Kalashnikov assault rifles, three machine guns and an automatic pistol were seized, it added.

The ministry did not link the operation to an assault on Friday claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb on a gas plant in Krechba further south.

On Monday, Britain's BP and Norway's Statoil -- who run the plant with Algerian company Sonatrach -- said they would temporarily pull out their staff from two gas facilities in Algeria after the attack.

Last month, Algerian troops recovered six Stinger shoulder-fired ground-to-air missiles and other weaponry in an operation in El Oued in which three suspected jihadists were killed.

A total of "157 terrorists, including 10 commanders" were killed or arrested in military operations last year, according to the defence ministry.

A brutal civil war in the 1990s between the government and Islamists killed 200,000 people.

Despite adopting a peace and reconciliation charter in 2005 aimed at turning the page on the conflict, armed groups remain active in the centre and east of Algeria.

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