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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 11:15 GMT
Many injured in Algiers blast
Car bomb attack in Algiers, 1997
Algiers: Scene of frequent bombings in the mid-1990s
A powerful bomb has exploded at a busy bus station in the Algerian capital, Algiers, injuring 18 people.

I was waiting for the bus when I was blown off my feet by a powerful blast

Survivor Chahira Guechou
Three students, two women and a man, are reported to have had their legs blown off by the blast, which ripped through the Tafourha bus station at about 0845 local time (0745 GMT) when many people were heading to work or university.

Police were deployed across the city, and rushed to the scene along with emergency teams.

The attack, on the fourth day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, has raised fears of an upsurge of violence by Islamic rebels.

The bomb attack was the first in Algiers in nearly three months. In late August, 34 people were injured when a bomb exploded in the city.

Attackers unknown

"I was waiting for the bus when I was blown off my feet by a powerful blast. My legs hurt," said one survivor, law student Chahira Guechou, 21, from her hospital bed.

Interior Minister Nourredine Yazid Zerhouni visited the scene, where a small crater in the blood-stained pavement was littered by sheets blown from the students' textbooks and notebooks.

No-one has admitted carrying out the attack.

A police officer at the bus station said a homemade bomb had been hidden in a satchel and suggested the attacker had probably been dressed like a student.

Algiers had been calm for two years until August this year when a bomb explosion killed two people and injured 32.

During the height of the Islamic insurgency in the mid-1990s, the capital was rocked by car bombs which killed hundreds of civilians.

But in the past few years, the violence has taken place mostly outside Algiers.

More than 100,000 people are estimated to have been killed in politically-related violence since 1992 when the army cancelled elections that the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) seemed certain to win.

See also:

09 Sep 01 | Middle East
Gunmen kill 10 in Algeria
30 Aug 01 | Middle East
Bomb blast hits Algiers
21 Dec 00 | Middle East
Amnesty condemns Algeria killings
01 Nov 00 | Middle East
Algiers: Eye of the storm
19 Jan 00 | Middle East
Large take-up for Algeria amnesty
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