World condemns Algiers attack

UN deputy spokeswoman Marie Okabe says UN chief Ban Ki-moon "strongly condemns the terrorist bombings that occurred today in Algeria.

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“Ban believes this deplorable incident, the latest in a series of similar attacks in the Maghreb region as a whole, shows the need for concerted international action against terrorism which has the effect of undermining the normal functioning of societies and disrupting the lives of ordinary people," she added.

In Washington, both the White House and the State Department condemned the attacks.

"These horrific acts indiscriminately killed members of the security services and civilians alike," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.

"The United States condemns the terrorist attacks," he added.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said US authorities were already working with their Moroccan and Algerian counterparts.

"We stand with them as they try to find out the cause or the impetus for the attacks," she said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his "sorrow and indignation" in a statement released by the Kremlin.

"This criminal act of terrorism once again confirms that terrorism has no ethnic or religious identity and is one of the greatest challenges the entire international community faces today," he added.

In the Middle East, the secretary general of the Arab League, Amr Mussa, condemned the attacks.

The monarchies of the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Qatar also denounced the attacks in separate statements.

In Brussels, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said: "I condemn with the strongest force the bloody attacks perpetrated today in Algiers which caused a high number of casualties.

"These were odious and cowardly acts," he added, offering his condolences to the families of the victims.

French President Jacques Chirac condemned what he called the "terrible attacks" in a message of solidarity to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Algeria was until 1962 a French colony.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said in a telegram to Bouteflika that he "was profoundly moved by the terrible news of the tragic terrorist attacks perpetrated today in Algiers."

He added: "I want to express in my name and in the name of the government of Spain my most profound solidarity and my strong condemnation."

"Canada strongly condemns the senseless, brutal bombings that targeted the Prime Minister's office and a police station in Algiers today. There can be no justification for these criminal acts," Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay said in a statement.

Travel alerts

Meanwhile western countries have reduced embassy services in Algeria and urged their citizens to avoid travelling on predictable routes after terrorist attacks in the North African country left 23 dead and more than 220 injured.

The US embassy said it would limit movement by its staffers to essential business over the Algerian weekend today and tomorrow, after the attacks yesterday on the prime minister's office and a police station.

Al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Britain's Foreign Office recommended that travellers restrict their movements in the capital, Algiers, and said it was looking into "reports that terrorists may be planning to carry out attacks against aircraft in Algeria." It did not elaborate.

France's government said that large Algerian cities were "quite secure in general," but nonetheless urged "the greatest prudence" for its nationals.

The website of the French embassy said travel should be limited to cities through major roadways, and "travel by plane remains preferable."

The embassy also recommended that French people living in Algeria "avoid repeated trips on fixed timetables and fixed itineraries."

In Berlin, the Foreign Ministry's website advised Germans to take care during travel in Algeria "because attacks with a terrorist background against foreigners or foreign firms also cannot be ruled out."

Foreign embassies traditionally have advised caution when travelling in Algeria, which has been trying to turn the page on a 15-year Islamic insurgency that killed as many as 200,000 people, but the Western nations stepped up the calls after yesterday's attacks.

Al-Qaeda in Islamic North Africa, formerly known as the GSPC, has carried out a series of recent bombings in Algeria.

It claimed responsibility for the attacks in a message sent to al-Jazeera.

The Algerian government did not name suspects.

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