Page last updated at 15:24 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

Deadly raid on east Algerian base

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Suspected Islamist militants in Algeria have killed nine security guards and wounded two at a camp east of the capital, Algiers.

The attackers bombed the compound near Jijel being used by the guards, who were working for the state-owned gas and electricity distributor Sonelgaz.

The area around Jijel, 350km (220 miles) from Algiers, is a stronghold of al-Qaeda's north African branch.

Attacks by militants in Algeria have increased in recent months.

Security sources as well as residents and local journalists confirmed the casualties in the attack on the security guards' Ziama Mansouriah compound on Sunday evening.

A mortar bomb was fired at the guards' quarters before the camp was attacked by a "horde" of militants, the Algerian newspaper El Watan reports.

The two wounded guards are being treated in hospital for serious injuries.

The guards, who worked for the private security company Spas, had been protecting Sonelgaz facilities, the newspaper adds.

Militants killed three security guards from the same firm in the same area almost a year ago, it notes.

Spas employs about 12,500 personnel, protecting 800 Sonelgaz sites across Algeria, according to the energy distributor.

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