At least 67 people were killed in two bomb blasts that rocked the Algerian capital yesterday, hospital sources said.
Algerian Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni said a suicide bomber was used in at least one of the two attacks -- the latest in a series this year which have mostly been claimed by al-Qaeda.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
"The death toll is very high," Zerhouni told reporters.
One of the blasts struck near the Constitutional Court building in Ben Aknoun district and the other close to the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Development Program and a police station in Hydra. Both are areas where several Western companies have their offices.
In Ben Aknoun people ran through the streets crying in panic and the wail of police sirens filled the air.
A body lay on the road covered with a white blanket, two buses were burning, debris from damaged cars was strewn across pavements while police struggled to hold back onlookers.
"I want to call my family, but it is impossible. The network is jammed. I know they are very concerned as I work near by the council," a veiled woman working at a perfume shop said.
Several university students, riding in a college bus that was hit by the explosion outside the court building, were among the dead, security sources said.
A UNHCR spokesperson said in Geneva that the explosion happened at about 9:30am and that UN workers were among the victims.
Public radio, Algiers Network 3, said the two bombs went off about 10 minutes apart.
Algerian TV images broadcast in France showed a badly damaged building with many windows blown out.
Algeria has been battling Islamic insurgents since the early 1990s, when the army canceled the second round of the country's first-ever multiparty elections, stepping in to prevent likely victory by an Islamic fundamentalist party. Islamist armed groups then turned to force to overthrow the government, with up to 200,000 people killed in the ensuing violence.
The last year has seen a series of bombings -- many of them hitherto unheard of suicide attacks -- against state targets.
Recent bombings have been claimed by al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa. That was the name adopted in January after the remnants of the insurgency formally linked with al-Qaeda. Once focused on toppling the Algerian government, the group has now turned its sights on international holy war and the fight against Western interests.
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