By Mohamed Arezki Himeur
Nine soldiers have been killed in Western Algeria after an ambush by suspected Islamic militants.
The attack comes as an international conference on combating terrorism concluded in the capital, Algiers.
The soldiers were on a search operation in the mountains of Oued Louh, near Oued Djemaa, in the region of Ain Defla, 160km to the west of Algiers on Wednesday, when they were ambushed in broad daylight.
The conflict with Islamists has had a huge toll
The attackers first set off homemade bombs, stopping the army patrol in their tracks before opening fire on the soldiers.
Surprised by the ambush, the soldiers didn't have time to defend themselves.
They were stripped of their arms by their assailants who then fled into the surrounding mountains.
The Armed Islamic Group (GIA) of Rachid Abou Tourab is thought to be behind the attack, as it operates in this area.
One of the group's number was killed when security forces combed the area after the attack.
The ambush was carried out even as an international conference on methods of combating terrorism and organised crime was taking place in Algiers.
Experts representing 22 countries, 10 of them from the West, attended the two day talks.
At their end on Wednesday night, delegates adopted a number of proposals including the exchange of information between countries on active terrorists and the adoption of policies to prevent anti terrorism.
A representative of Interpol at the conference announced the launch of a new centre called Baobab, to fight the traffic of illicit arms for profit by terrorist groups in Africa.
The centre will be set up in a yet to be named African country.