Nine private security guards were killed at the hands of suspected terrorists on Sunday (22 February) in Algeria's Northeast. The guards who worked for private security company Spas were attacked by an unknown number of armed men using mortar shells to attack the company's base. The attack raises serious concern as it follows a spate of small-scale attacks in other parts of the country in recent weeks and as it comes ahead of Algeria's presidential election in April. Concerns are further fuelled by the fact that that particular region, near Jijel province, has not come under terrorist attack in several years and is one of the worst seen in the country for months.
Significance:A series of attacks in recent weeks has broken the relative calm seen over the past few months. Last week eight soldiers were killed in an attack that was blamed on members of the al-Qaida wing in Algeria (seeAlgeria: 16 February 2009:). In turn that attack followed a twin explosion in eastern Algeria, on 18 February just hours before President Abdelaziz Bouteflika announced formally his intention to run for a third term in office in the upcoming presidential election. Bouteflika's bid for re-election comes after constitutional hurdles were removed enabling him to run for an additional term which legally had not been permissible. The recent spate of attacks raises fears that further attacks can be expected in the run up to the presidential election campaign.