ALGIERS, (Reuters) – Algerian government forces killed 14 al Qaeda fighters and destroyed a number of rebel hideouts in mountains east of Algiers, newspapers reported on Sunday.
Four rebels, including a leading member of al Qaeda’s north Africa wing, were killed by the army last week in El Oued province, 700 km (435 miles) southeast of Algiers, El Khabar and Echorouk said, citing security sources.
The military, backed by helicopters, also killed 10 rebels and destroyed several al Qaeda hideouts in a separate operation during the same week in Boumerdes province, about 50 km (31 miles) east of Algiers, El Khabar said.
Four soldiers were wounded in the Boumerdes operation, which is still going on against more rebels in surrounding mountains areas, the Arabic-language daily added.
The authorities do not normally comment on newspaper reports of security operations.
The killings were the largest reported clash between security forces and Islamist fighters since early April when security forces killed 10 rebels they said had been planning suicide attacks in April in the capital Algiers.
OPEC member Algeria plunged into violence in 1992 after a military backed government had scrapped legislative elections a radical Islamist party was set to win. Up to 200,000 people have been killed in subsequent violence.