ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Islamist insurgents ambushed an Algerian military convoy in the mountainous Kabylie region, killing 14 soldiers, the state news agency reported Sunday. The attack came two days after Algeria's presidential election.
The attack near the village of Iboudraren began at 10 p.m. Saturday 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 as the military bus drove by. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
The region has been the site of past clashes, including one three years ago that killed at least 13 soldiers at an army post. That attack was claimed by the Algeria-based al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Saturday's attack, but it appeared to carry a message for 77-year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The soldiers killed were returning from securing polling stations for Thursday's presidential election, which the government said was won by the ailing 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. Bouteflika has been credited with bringing peace to this North African nation. Although sporadic attacks continue by AQIM fighters, they are now 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 have long been disaffected from the central government. The region near Saturday's attack had the lowest participation rate in the presidential election in the entire country.
Elaine Ganley in Paris contributed to this report.