ALGIERS, Aug 27: Eleven people were killed and 32 wounded in a suicide bombing at the Cherchell military academy west of Algiers, the defence ministry said on Saturday according to APS news agency.

A hospital source had earlier put the toll in the attack late on Friday at 18 dead and dozens wounded.

The ministry said nine officers and two civilians were among the dead. Twenty-six wounded had been discharged but six people were still in hospital, one in critical condition.

The figures were the first to be published by an official source, a day after the twin suicide attack about 100km west of the Algerian capital around 10 minutes after the breaking of the Ramazan fast.

The ministry branded the attack “appalling and terrorist” and attributed it to “criminal gangs” targeting objects that would be of media interest.

According to El Watan newspaper, the suicide bombers tried to cause as many casualties as possible by targeting the officers' mess just as all the soldiers assembled there to break the fast.

The bombers, one on a motorcycle, set off explosions a few seconds apart in front of the entrance to the mess hall, El Watan said.

The wounded were evacuated to hospitals in the nearby towns of Sidi Ghiles and Tipaza, as well as to the army's central Ain-Naadja hospital in Algiers.

The reports were not confirmed by official sources.

Ramazan is increasingly being considered as a good time for jihad by militant groups. Since the holy month began in early August, there have been many attacks east of Algiers, especially in Kabylia, targeting the army and police.

Authorities generally remain tight-lipped about such incidents which have not ended despite a policy of national reconciliation adopted in the early 2000s by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.—AFP

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