A bomb primed to explode in Algeria’s capital was defused after three members of a “terrorist group” were arrested, the defense ministry said Wednesday.
“Security services of the national defense ministry were successful... in dismantling a network comprised of three elements supporting a terrorist group active in the Tipaza heights” near Algiers, the ministry said in a statement.
“After investigations, it was established that one of these elements... had dispatched a homemade bomb” to Eucalyptus, an area in the suburbs of the capital, the ministry added.
The explosive device would have been used to perpetrate an attack in Algiers and was found before being deactivated on Tuesday by a special army unit, the statement added.
Six extremists and three Algerian soldiers were killed in a clash in Tipaza in early January, according to authorities.
The defense ministry also on Wednesday announced the capture of a “terrorist” it named as Okbaoui Abdi, also known as Abdi Ould Barka, in southern Algeria near the border with Mali.
Algerian authorities use the term “terrorist” to describe armed Islamists who have been active in the country since the early 1990s.
Between 1992 and 2002, a civil war pitting the army against multiple Islamist and extremist groups left an estimated 200,000 people dead.
A 2005 Charter for Peace and Reconciliation was supposed to have turned the page on the conflict, but extremist groups continue to carry out sporadic operations.
Official media also said late last year that the army had foiled a planned redeployment by al-Qaeda’s North Africa (AQMI), following the death of their leader.
AQIM’s leader Abdelmalek Droukdel was killed in June by French forces in northern Mali, but was replaced in November by Abu Obaida Yusuf al-Annabi, a well-known AQIM veteran and Algerian national.