47 Dead in Bombing Of Algerian Capital

ALGIERS, Algeria -- At least 47 people were killed when two car bombs exploded in upscale districts of Algiers on Tuesday, a security source said, in the bloodiest attack since the 1990s on the capital of the OPEC member state.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but commentators said it appeared to be the work of al-Qaida's North African wing, which claimed a similar bombing in downtown Algiers in April and other blasts east of the capital over the summer, which have worried foreign investors.

One of Tuesday's blasts struck near the Constitutional Court building in the Ben Aknoun district and the other close to the UN offices and a police station in Hydra, both areas where several Western companies have their offices.

Algerian Interior Minister Noureddine Yazid Zerhouni said a suicide attacker appeared to have detonated the Hydra bomb.

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 the pavement 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 nearby the council," a veiled woman working at a perfume shop said.

"There was a massive blast," a UN worker wrote in an anonymous item for a BBC web site.

"Everything shattered. Everything fell. I hid under a piece of furniture so I wouldn't be hit by the debris. ... One of my colleagues had a big wound in her neck, she was bleeding severely."

Several of the casualties in Ben Aknoun were students riding a school bus, the official APS news agency said. The security source said the final death toll could go as high as 60.

Algeria, a major gas supplier to Europe, is recovering from more than a decade of violence that began in 1992, when the then-army-backed government scrapped elections that a radical Islamic party was poised to win. Up to 200,000 people have been killed in the subsequent conflict.

The violence has subsided since then, but a string of attacks this year, including April 11 attack that killed 33 in Algiers, has raised fears the country could slip back into the turmoil of the 1990s.

Tuesday's attacks dented security forces' hopes that they had crushed the insurgency following the killing by the army of the ringleaders of the April 11 attacks.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who visited Algiers last week, called the blasts "barbaric and profoundly cowardly acts." Washington condemned the attacks and said it would continue counterterrorism collaboration with Algeria.