Islamist militants have killed at least thirteen government soldiers in Algeria on the same day that the country’s president announced a series of reforms to quell protests.

The soldiers were attacked at an army post in Kabyle, 80 miles east of Algiers, the Algerian capital.

Two of the Islamic fighters were also killed in an exchange of gunfire.

Reportedly, the troops were attacked while watching President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's speech on television.

In response to the attack, security forces fanned out over areas, including the Yakourene forest, which are reputedly in control of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, to search for suspects.

It was the most violent disturbance in Algeria since the state lifted a 19-year emergency rule a few weeks ago, and raises the spectre of a burgeoning Islamist movement in the country. The 1992 emergency law was imposed to stamp out an Islamic party that had actually won a national election. This act led to a deadly civil war that killed 170,000 people.

In July 2009, at least 14 soldiers were killed in an ambush on a military convoy in Damous on the northern coast.
The al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb was officially formed in 2006, a descendant of the insurgency movement, the Salafist Group for Call and Combat.