The European Union wants stronger ties with Algeria in the fight against terrorism.
“We already cooperate on important matters with Algeria against terrorism and we want to strengthen those ties,” said Pedro Serrano, from the European External Action Service (EEAS).
Serrano was speaking on Thursday (18 February) from Algeria where he held a meeting with the country’s Interior Minister Nurredín Bedui and the EU’s anti-terrorism coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove.
Their visit coincided with the killing of two suspected Jihadists by the Algerian army in the east of the country. The Ministry of Defence released a statement saying special anti-terrorism forces had seized two Kalashnikov assault rifles, six bullet clips, a grenade, other ammunition, mobile phones and binoculars.
At the same time, military operatives found and destroyed a bunker in a nearby town that was suspected of being used by terrorists.
Jihadist activity has increased in Algeria during the last year and security forces have killed 157 suspected terrorists, as well as ten high-ranking individuals. According to information released by the interior ministry on its website, in 2015, the army seized 307 weapons, such as automatic weapons, grenade launchers, shotguns and rifles, as well as 1,279 explosive devices.
They also located and destroyed 548 bunkers and hideouts used by terrorist groups.
The increase in jihadist activity has been mostly concentrated in the northern part of the country, which in the 1990s was the scene of brutal offensives by radical Islamists that caused more than 300,000 deaths.
The violence has coincided with an increased presence of radical groups on the porous borders the country shares with Tunisia and Libya.