Algerian security forces have arrested four Islamists

Algiers, Dec 15 (AFP/APP): Algerian security forces have arrested four Islamists, while another heavily armed militant handed himself in, the defense ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

The Islamist who surrendered was in possession of a machine gun, two rocket-propelled grenade launchers and ammunition, in Tamanrasset, in the extreme south of the country near the border with Mali, the statement said. The arrests take the number of people detained on suspicion of supporting “terrorist groups” to 17 across the country since the start of December, according to the ministry.

Algerian authorities use the term “terrorist” to describe armed Islamists who have been active in the country since the early 1990s. On December 1, the ministry reported that three Islamists had been killed in clashes with the army in the northeastern province of Jijel, and said the following day that an Algerian soldier had been killed in clashes in the same area.

State media has reported that the army recently thwarted a plan by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to redeploy. 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.

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