ALGIERS, Algeria — Islamist insurgents ambushed an Algerian military convoy in the mountainous Kabylie region, killing 14 soldiers, the state news agency reported today. The attack came two days after Algeria’s presidential election.
The attack near the village of Iboudraren began at 10 p.m. Saturday night with 11 soldiers being killed immediately and another three succumbing to their wounds, the agency said.
A local official said a large group of insurgents hid on both sides of the road and opened fire with automatic weapons on the military bus as it drove by. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
The area has been the site of past clashes between soldiers and militants but this attack represented the worst loss for the Algerian army in recent memory.
The soldiers were returning from securing polling stations for Thursday’s presidential election, which the government said was won by the country’s ailing, 77-year-old incumbent, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, in a landslide.
Algeria fought a 10-year civil war against Islamic insurgents in the 1990s after the army cancelled a parliamentary election an Islamic party had been poised to win. Now the militants are largely confined to isolated regions such as the Kabylie mountains, 60 miles (100 kilometers) east of Algiers, the capital.
The Kabylie mountains are populated by Berbers, North Africa’s original inhabitants, who speak their own language and have long been disaffected from the central government. The Tizi Ouzou region near Saturday’s attack site had the lowest participation rate in the presidential election in the entire country.