Just when the Algerian authorities thought that the al-Qaeda threat was declining, the insurgency organization delivered a massive blow to the army in the northeast. On 30 July, five Islamic insurgents and seven soldiers were killed in a violent clash during a large-scale sweeping operation in the municipality of Azzaba, province of Skikda.
According to security sources, the Head of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Abdelkader Droukdel, had ordered all the leaders of the regional AQIM offshoots in the region to meet in Skikda, and discuss a possible alliance. Droukdel, who is now believed to be in Tunisia, has recruited Islamic State insurgents in Tunisia and Algeria, as he plans to destabilize the Maghreb.
The group that clashed with the Algerian army in Skikda is comprised of 15 to 20 members who are originally from Constantine, the same source added. The militants are known for changing locations even two to three months, according to locals who have been spotting them in the area in recent years. Other offshoots coming from Tunisia and Constantine are also being sought. The counter-terrorism operation in Azzaba continues, and the death toll is likely to increase in the next week.