ALGIERS — A group linked to Al Qaeda detonated seven bombs Tuesday, targeting police in several towns east of Algiers and killing six people, officials said.
Al Qaeda in Islamic North Africa -- the new name for the Salafist Group for Call and Combat -- claimed responsibility for the attacks in a telephone call to the Qatar-based television network Al Jazeera and in a statement on the Internet. The group allied itself with Al Qaeda last year.
"I was woken by a huge blast. I thought it was an earthquake," said Aaref Jumaa, a resident of Si Mustafa village, near Boumerdes town, about 30 miles east of Algiers. Jumaa, standing near the blast-pocked walls of the village police station, said the bomb went off next to the building, which is across the street from his home.
Blood was pooled in the gutter of the main road.
"From now on I will sleep with fear in my heart," said Fatima, a woman clearing debris from her kitchen.
The seven blasts, some from car bombs, hit the Kabylie region of Algeria between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m. Tuesday, the state news agency said.
The attackers' statement claimed that casualties were much higher and accused the Interior Ministry of playing down the impact. The statement said the attacks targeted six police stations and "ended successfully."
The Interior Ministry said six people were killed, including two police officers, according to the state news agency. The ministry reported 13 wounded, and said 10 of them were police officers.
Police and hospital staff put the number of wounded at 30.
"I was wakened by a terrific crash that shattered the windows of my house," said Yassine, who lives near one of the targeted police stations. He asked that his last name not be published because he feared for his safety.
"I went outside and found the facade of the police station in ruins, with the carcass of a bombed car next to it."
The Tizi Ouzou and Boumerdes areas are often the scene of clashes between Islamist guerrillas and security forces in the Mediterranean country.
The attacks Tuesday were the first on police stations since Oct. 30, when near-simultaneous truck bombs killed three people at two police stations in the Algiers region.
A bomb exploded Dec. 10 beside a bus carrying foreign oil workers in an Algiers suburb, killing two people and wounding eight.