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Date Reported: Saturday, January 29, 2000
Incident Type: SECURITY
Country: ALGERIA

Incident: The U.S. Embassy in Algiers submits the following on security in Algeria:

The Islamist insurgency in Algeria continued, but media reporting showed a downward trend in the number of deaths. This period (October - December 1999) included two major factors: Ramadan, which normally is marked by an increase in violence and the closing weeks of Algiers's civil concord (amnesty) program. Insurgent inspired bombings continue to use low-level, improvised explosive devices throughout the country with no apparent increase in technical sophistication. Within Algiers, some shooting incidents between security forces and insurgents have occurred in areas close to the U.S. Embassy and along routes normally traveled by embassy motorcades. The city of Algiers appears to have become safer than in years past. This improvement can be attributed to an intense security coverage on roads leading into the city and at numerous security checkpoints that blanket the city. Post reporting officers believe that early January developments imply that violence may decrease in the coming weeks and months.

The months of November and December were marked by a half dozen high profile, high casualty (15-30 victims) attacks of civilian targets. The closest such attack was 30 km west of Algiers. On November 23, the third ranking member of the banned Islamic salvation front was gunned down in central Algiers in a mid-day attack. False security checkpoints along with ambushes continue to be an insurgent tactic resulting in robbery and/or murder as reported by the media. This type of terrorist activity has in particular plagued the region of Tizi-Ouzou, Dellys and Boumeredes, east of Algiers, and Blida to the south.

The deaths of approximately 406 people during this reporting period were directly attributed to the insurgency. Of these deaths, 51 are government security forces, 287 are civilian and 68 are identified with terrorist elements. This has shown an overall downward trend in terrorist related casualties following the civil concord referendum vote in September.

Algeria remains a critical threat environment. The U.S. mission continues to operate at the highest state of security alertness with stringent security procedures in place. Most Western missions continue to maintain stringent security procedures and protective security details for diplomatic staff and facilities. However, German embassy personnel have begun venturing downtown without security escorts. Several other Western embassies have been reevaluating their security programs.

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