April 12th, 2007 08:55 EST
Attacks in Morocco and Algeria
Washington -- The Bush administration condemned recent terrorist attacks in Algeria and Morocco as “horrific acts” and voiced support for both countries’ ongoing efforts to combat extremism.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, in a statement released April 11, said the attacks “indiscriminately killed members of the security services and civilians alike” and expressed sympathy on behalf of the United States to the victims, their families and their fellow citizens.
“We stand with the Moroccan and Algerian people and their governments in the struggle against extremism and violence, and support their efforts to secure a future of peace,” he said, adding, “There is no political justification for the murder of innocent lives.”
A bomb that exploded near the office of Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem and another that went off at a police station outside the capital, Algiers, April 11 together killed at least 23 and wounded 160, according to APS, Algeria’s official news agency. The previous day in Casablanca, four suspected Islamist militants and a Moroccan police officer were killed in three separate explosions.
According to press reports, the al-Qaida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb has claimed responsibility for both attacks. Speaking to reporters April 11, McCormack said he could not confirm any linkage between the attacks, nor determine who was responsible. However, he said that “al-Qaida and al-Qaida affiliates have been active in the past in North Africa,” and the organization remains “a current and persistent threat.”
Earlier, when asked if the violence in Algeria could be due to a demand by Islamist parties for greater political participation, McCormack said the Algerian people would be the ones to define which types of political parties would be able to participate in their country’s political process.
“We have encouraged, obviously, greater inclusion so that all people, whether they happen to be in Algeria or elsewhere, can freely express via the ballot box … their opinion on who should lead them,” he said.
However, the United States has refused to recognize any link between political agendas and acts of terrorism. “There's no political agenda that justifies the use of terrorism. That's been our view for quite some time,” he said.
The spokesman also expressed regret that Algeria, which has been seeking to recover from civil strife in the mid 1990s that killed an estimated 150,000 people, was again the scene of violence.
“It's sad to see today this sort of mass casualty incident that they really haven't seen for some time,” McCormack said.
The full text of McCormack’s written statement is available on the State Department Web site.
By Stephen Kaufman
USINFO Staff Writer