Fourteen Algerian soldiers were killed and a dozen wounded when they fell into an ambush in the restive Kabylie region east of Algiers, security sources say.
Eleven soldiers were killed instantly, and another three later died of their wounds, national news agency APS quoted one security source as saying.
“A convoy of the People’s National Army (ANP) that was returning from an operation to secure Thursday’s presidential election was surprised by a large terrorist group that had laid an ambush for it” at Iboudrarene, the source said.
Troops “immediately launched a search operation to find the attackers,” the same source added.
Another security source said a dozen soldiers were also wounded in the ambush, and that reinforcements had been dispatched to the area.
The attackers laid the ambush on a main road between two villages in the mountainous region where Islamist militants who battled the army during the civil war in the 1990s still operate.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has also attacked security forces there.
But the defence ministry said on Sunday that nearby “Boumerdes-Tizi Ouzou-Bouira road remains the area where anti terrorist operations have had the most significant results” in the first third of 2014.
Thirty-seven militants were killed by troops across Algeria during the first quarter of the year, included 21 in Kabylie, the statement said, calling the fighters “terrorists”.
Sunday’s attack came after ailing President Abdelaziz Bouteflika won a fourth term last week in an election marred by low turnout and allegations of fraud, with his main rival rejecting the result.
Discontent with the 77-year-old Bouteflika was most evident in Kabylie, where some 70 people were wounded in clashes on Thursday between police and youths seeking to disrupt the vote.