The latest violence in Algeria have cast a shadow over the build-up to April’s presidential elections. Al-Qaeda’s north African wing is suspected of killing nine security guards at a gas plant east of Algiers. The attack happened in the mountainous Kabylie region where Algeria has been fighting an Islamist insurgency.
The line-up for April’s vote includes current President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. He confirmed his candidature as news of the latest killings was released. Ten days ago another seven people were killed near the Tunisian border. Bouteflika will be joined on the ballot by the nationalist FNA leader Moussa Touati, whose attempt to run for the presidency was rejected in 2004. The Secretary General of the Workers Party, Louisa Hanoune is a third candidate; there are at least four others on the list but Bouteflika will be heavily favoured to win a third term. He has overseen a crackdown on militants – while attacks continue, they have become more rare. Al-Qaeda’s affiliate is the remnant of a broad insurgency which threatened Algeria in the 1990s. Violence has lessened since Algiers began offering amnesties to encourage rebels to disarm.