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Al-Qaeda Claims Algeria Suicide Bombing

Al-Qaeda's North African wing, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing against a police station in Thenia, Algeria on January 29. Four people were killed by the blast and twenty wounded. The perpetrator drove an explosives laden van toward the station whereupon policemen opened fire on the vehicle, which detonated before reaching the police station outright. Severe damage was caused to surrounding buildings. AQIM's claim was posted on a jihadist website the next day:

"A lion's cub of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, valiant martyr Hamza Abu Abderrahman, drove a vehicle laden with at least 650 kilograms (1,430 pounds) of explosives against the ramparts of the apostates: the judicial police station in Thenia," said a statement on a website routinely used by Al-Qaeda.

The attack comes amidst a heightened threat environment in Algeria with embassies urging their nationals to avoid public venues and travel to the country's interior where AQIM is active. Olivier Guitta, a counterterrorism consultant, has reported on internal dissension in AQIM's organizational structure over the decision to switch from independent operations as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) to the umbrella of Al-Qaeda and the methodology of attacking civilian targets in suicide strikes. If so, this attack, though relatively on the lower end, is evidence that AQIM still retains operational capability.