The ministry said in a statement that the toll was a
"preliminary estimate" for the attack in Issers, some 35 miles east
of the capital, Algiers.
Interior Minister Yazid Zerhouni, who went to the scene,
called the bombing "an act against Algerians."
"It's utter carnage," the father of one of those
killed in the attack told the official news agency APS. "May God punish
them for the crime they have committed against these youngsters, and their
country," he said, weeping.
The local al-Qaida affiliate has claimed several attacks in
the past, including the suicide bombings of United Nations offices and a court
building in Algiers in December, which killed 41 people.
"Most of the dead [on Tuesday] were young men aged
between 18 and 20. They were in line waiting to enter the school for recruiting
exams when they were mowed down by the blast," a witness told Reuters by
"The car explosion destroyed part of the outer wall of
the school and blew a huge crater into the ground, about three meters from the main
gate," he added.
As well as devastating the entrance to the school, the blast
destroyed several nearby houses, blew out windows in nearby shops and tore up
Tuesday's bombing came two days after a militant ambush in
Skirda, about 300 miles east of Algiers, that targeted the military commander
of the region and his police escort. Twelve people died in that attack,
according to local media.
The reports said suspected Islamic militants detonated road
mines and opened fire on the convoy. They beheaded the victims and stole their
uniforms and automatic rifles.
In a similar attack three days earlier, militants killed the
military chief for the Jijel area, also east of Algiers, local media reported.
On August 9, a suicide bomber rammed a van full of
explosives into a police post at the beach resort of Zemmouri el-Bahri, killing
eight people and injuring 19 others.
Less than a week earlier, on August 3, another suicide
attack on police in Tizi Ouzou wounded 25 people.
Responsibility for that attack was claimed by al-Qaida's
North African branch.
They also claimed a July 23 attack in which police said a
suicide bomber on a motorbike injured 13 Algerian soldiers in Lakhdaria, also
east of Algiers.
These attacks ended a six-month period of calm that followed
the devastating December bombings in Algiers.