Officials say troops killed at least three militants during a counter-terrorism operation in northern Algeria on Tuesday.
Algeria’s Ministry of National Defense released a statement saying the incident occurred Tuesday morning “during a cordon and combing operation at the village of Ouled H’mida, located in Baghlia,” a town in the northern province of Boumerdès.
Security forces recovered three Kalashnikov machine guns with magazines, 135 rounds of ammunition and nine mobile phones, the statement reads.
While much of Algeria is considered relatively secure, militant groups are known to enjoy safe havens in the north of the country, where they have clashed with security forces in multiple incidents throughout the year.
At least two Algerian soldiers were killed in a militant ambush in the northern woods of Colo, in the Skikda province, during an anti-terrorism operation in mid-August, and in July at least 11 soldiers were killed in an ambush sprung by militants in a forested area of Ain Delfa, 150 miles southeast of the capital Algiers.
Al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb is an Algeria-based Sunni Muslim jihadist group that, according to the U.S. National Counter-Terrorism Center, employs “conventional terrorist tactics, including guerrilla-style ambushes, mortar, rocket, and [Improvised Explosive Device] attacks.”
In September 2014, Jund al-Khilafah fi Ard al-Jazayer, or “Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria,” split from AQIM and declared allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Militants from the IS affiliate in October 2014 kidnapped and beheaded 55-year-old Frenchman Hervé Gourdel in Algeria, depicting the execution in an online video. The militants said France had failed to respond to a demand to drop out of the U.S.-led coalition against IS forces in Iraq and Syria.