ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) – Gunmen attacked patrolling police cars and a nearby police station on the eastern Algerian coast in near simultaneous ambushes that killed four officers and wounded two, Algerian media and local officials said Saturday.
The El-Watan newspaper and other dailies said some 30 gunmen ambushed a two-car police patrol Thursday on a road near the village of Les Aftis, some 350 kilometers (220 miles) east of Algiers on the Mediterranean coast.
Three police officers known as gendarmes were killed in the ambush, a local security official told The Associated Press by telephone on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter with the media.
Minutes later, other gunmen opened fire on a municipal police station nearby when the officers inside attempted to rush out in support of their colleagues. That assault left one police officer dead, according to the security official and media reports.
A municipal police official told AP by telephone that the patrol’s chief was injured and was in critical condition, along with another police officer. He also spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to be publicly named.
The Gendarmerie is a branch of police that answers to the Defense Ministry, which was not immediately available for comment.
There were no reports on casualties among the gunmen. El-Watan and other dailies said the militants stole some police guns and equipment before heading back to their bases in a remote mountainous area nearby.
The security officials and the local media blamed the attack on a resurgent terrorist group long known by its French acronym, GSPC, which has become increasingly active since it vowed allegiance to al-Qaeda in 2006.
The group, now known as al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa, is active in the hilly countryside of eastern Algeria and has claimed responsibility for a series of terror attacks in recent months, usually targeting security services and the military.