Algerian security services said Wednesday that they had foiled armed attacks planned by a separatist group that was receiving foreign help — including from Israel — local media reported.
The DGSN security agency said police this week broke up a network linked to the Movement for the Autonomy of Kabylie (MAK), a group that seeks independence for the restive Kabylie region and which Algeria considers a “terrorist” organization, according to a statement carried by local media.
According to Reuters, Algeria’s Ennahar TV said the attack was being planned by separatists aided by “the Zionist entity” as well as a North African country. The second country was not named, but Algeria has previously accused MAK of being supported by Israel and its neighbor Morocco.
The statement from the security agency said 17 people were detained across the northeastern Kabylie region, accused of planning “armed acts aiming to harm the country’s security, with the complicity of domestic parties advocating separatism.”
The suspects admitted to having been “in constant contact via the internet with foreign parties operating under the cover of civil society associations and organizations” based in Israel and in a North African country, the statement said.
In August Algeria Algeria cut ties with Morocco, accusing it of “hostile actions.”
The move came after Morocco’s envoy to the United Nations in July expressed support for self-determination for Kabylie, a stronghold of the Amazigh (Berber) minority. Algiers strongly opposes any independence aspirations in the region.
Long-tense relations between Algeria and Morocco have deteriorated of late as conflict in the disputed Western Sahara flared last year after a long ceasefire.
Morocco considers the former Spanish colony an integral part of its kingdom, but Algeria has backed the Polisario Front, a movement that seeks independence there.
Morocco’s normalization last year of diplomatic ties with Israel, a quid pro quo for American recognition of Rabat’s sovereignty over the Western Sahara, also stirred new tensions with Algeria, a supporter of the Palestinian cause.