Militants linked to Al-Qaeda have killed two Algerian soldiers in the east of the country, several newspapers reported on Saturday.
The soldiers were travelling to their barracks on Thursday in civilian clothing and on a public bus which was ambushed near the city of Boumerdes, some 50 kilometres (31 miles) east of the capital Algiers, media reports said.
The militants took the soldiers by force off the bus and shot them dead, daily El Watan said.
Le Soir d'Algerie newspaper said the militants, who were five in number, belonged to an offshoot of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb that is holed up in the mountainous Djerrah area of the Boumerdes region.
Algerian security forces have carried out several operations against AQIM in the restive region of Kabylie, 110 kilometres (69 miles) east of Algiers, in the past two months.
At least five militant Islamists, including a suspected liaison between AQIM and Al-Qaeda central, have been killed since Tuesday, according to security officials.
AQIM, which stems from a group started in the late 1990s by radical Algerian Islamists, formally subscribed to Al-Qaeda's ideology in 2007. After a string of high-profile attacks, the army managed to severely curtail its operations.
It has since been boosted by the turmoil in neighbouring Mali that followed a coup there in March, with hardline Islamists occupying the country's vast northern region.© ANP/AFP