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Algerian troops kill 22 Islamist militants

Algerian troops have carried out one of the largest counter-terrorism operations in years, killing 22 militants. The Islamists are believed to be members of the Caliphate Soldiers, a group loyal to the "Islamic State."

Algerian security forces killed at least 22 Islamist militants Tuesday as they were meeting to plan an attack on the capital of Algiers, the Algerian security officials said.

A security official told Reuters news agency the militants were members of the Caliphate Soldiers, an al Qaeda splinter group that had declared allegiance to the Islamic State militant group.

"This is a major counter-terrorism operation, the largest in terms of militants killed in years," the security source said. "They were holding a meeting at the time."

The assault on the group took place in the Boukram forest in Boumerdes, about 20 kilometers from the capital of Algiers. Intelligence sources had informed the Algerian army about the meeting.

Dozens of weapons and homemade bombs were seized during the raid.

The Caliphate Soldiers in September kidnapped and killed a French tourist in the mountains east of Algiers, prompting Algerian troops to step up security operations in the region.

The Algerian army said it is still pursuing other members of the group, though it did not provide further details.

The last major attack in Algeria was an attack on a desert oil facility in January 2013 that left 40 mainly foreign hostages dead. Al Qaeda-linked militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar claimed responsibility for that attack.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, operates east of Algiers and carries out sporadic attacks.

Since the end of Algeria's decade-long 1990s war with Islamist militants, Algeria has become a partner in the Western campaign to root out insurgent groups in North Africa, especially in Mali and Libya.

bw/cmk (AP, Reuters, AFP)

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