A bomb ripped through a crowd waiting for the Algerian president to arrive in an eastern town on Thursday, killing as many as 16 people and injuring more than 70, officials said.
The bomb exploded about 45 minutes before President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's scheduled arrival in Batna, a town about 280 miles east of the capital, Algiers — and the last stop on the president's tour of eastern Algeria.
Local police said a man between 30 and 35 years old carrying the bomb in a bag walked into the crowd at the Al-Atik mosque. He was behaving strangely and onlookers alerted police, the officials said.
As police moved in toward the man, he threw down the bag and tried to flee. The bomb exploded, and it was not immediately clear whether he died or was wounded in the attack, police said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
Hospital and security officials put the death toll at 16, but the official APS news agency reported 14 dead. The discrepancy could not be immediately reconciled.
Bouteflika, who arrived after the blast, made brief remarks to Algerian television, saying "the only solution was national consensus."
Last Mod: 07 Eylül 2007, 15:03