Islamist militants serving estranged Al Qaeda commander Mokhtar Belmokhtar attacked a pipeline 75 miles east of Algiers Sunday, killing 2 guards and injuring 7 others. The pipeline is located in the Djebahia region and carries gas from the Hassi R'Mel field to refining plants along the Mediterranean coast. The extent of the damage to the pipeline is unknown.
Survivors from the attack say the armed militants attacked a group of local guards protecting the pipeline. Two guards were quickly killed, while 5 others suffered gunshot wounds. Algerian military responded, but a search of the area turned up no arrests. The Hassi R'Mel field is the largest in Algeria, and the second largest in the world.
The attack come less than two weeks after other Belmokhtar-led militants stormed and overtook a processing plant, taking hundreds of hostages and starting a 4-day standoff. That standoff, one of the largest hostage crises in nearly a decade, was ended by an Algerian military attack that killed both innocents and hostage takers.
Both attacks are allegedly retaliation for French military strikes in Mali, where Belmokhtar reportedly has set up operations. The gas from Algeria is sold in large part to portions of southern and central Europe, including France.