ALGIERS // Gunmen attacked a gas pipeline in northern Algeria and killed two village guards before being driven off, a local security official said yesterday.
The attack took place late Sunday night when the militants launched a series of homemade mortar shells at the Ain Chikh site, 120 kilometres south-west of Algiers, protected by local community guards.
Army units were alerted and searched the entire area, which is on the southern edge of the Kabylie mountain region that has become the last hideout of Al Qaeda in northern Algeria.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media.
A medical source said the bodies of the two guards killed were transferred to Mohamed Boudiaf de Bouira hospital, where five of their colleagues were taken for treatment of gunshot wounds.
The army has launched a search for the assailants who fled, the residents said. The attack comes nearly two weeks after a deadly Islamist attack on a gas plant in Algeria's southern Sahara desert, in a hostage-taking siege that ended with the deaths of almost 40 captives, mostly foreigners.
Attacks have dropped dramatically in Algeria's populated north in the past few years, and are restricted to a few operations against local security forces.
* Associated Press and Agence France-Presse