No claim of responsibility yet, but coordinated bombings and mass casualties are hallmarks of al-Qaeda. Watch this space for updates.” Algeria bomb blasts ‘kill 47’,” from CNN:
(CNN) — Two bombs ripped through the Algerian capital Tuesday, reportedly killing 47 people, in what appeared to be targeted attacks on government and United Nations buildings.
One explosion was outside the constitutional court in the Algiers neighborhood of Ben Aknoun and the other was in the residential area of Hydra, state-run television network ENTV reported.
The other attack apparently targeted the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in the neighborhood of Hydra, UNHCR chief spokesman Ron Redmond told CNN.
Algeria’s Minister of State Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni said the explosions were the result of two cars full of explosives, according to the state news agency.
So far no group has admitted responsibility for Tuesday’s blasts.
The U.N. headquarters in the Algerian capital and a separate building housing its refugee agency’s office “suffered extensive damage” and staff members were among the casualties, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees spokesman Ron Redmond told CNN.
“There have been several casualties but we don’t yet have any specific numbers,” he said.
He said there were usually half a dozen to a dozen people working in the UNHCR offices.
“Apparently this was an extremely powerful bomb,” Redmond told CNN from UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
“It’s caused a lot of damage and right now we’re just trying to sort out where our staff are.”
The U.N. is located in the Algiers neighborhood of Hydra.
The Algerian Press Service said many of the victims in one of the blasts were on a school bus carrying students.
Video from the scene showed a shallow crater in the road, surrounded by rubble and crowds of people.
A nearby four-story building was missing its facade and there was damage to some of the building’s interior.
Agence France-Presse said French President Nicolas Sarkozy had condemned the attacks, describing them as “barbarian acts”, during a telephone call to his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Hydra is an upscale district home to several Western companies, government buildings, and embassies, according to residents. Ben Aknoun is a more residential area but also houses buildings of the Supreme Court.
UPDATE: According to CNN, death toll estimates vary widely, with a government estimate of 26, and others as high as 76.
Algerian authorities are blaming al-Qaeda; in an Internet posting, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (the former Salafist Group for Call and Combat, or GSPC) has claimed responsibility.