Publish Date: Saturday,28 March, 2009, at 11:31 PM Doha Time Algerian troops kill six Islamists Agencies/Algiers A woman and children walk past a banner of Algerian President Abdulaziz Bouteflika in Algiers yesterday. Campaigning in the presidential elections started on March 19 with six candidates, including Bouteflika, vying for the presidency. The election takes place on April 9 Six armed Islamists have been killed in an army sweep south of the Algerian capital, local newspapers reported yesterday. The operation on Thursday took place in a forest about 50km south of Algiers, the French-language El Watan daily said. A local chief of the Armed Islamist group figured among the dead, another newspaper said. Roughly two dozen Islamists have been killed in army crackdowns since early March. The latest offensive takes to 150 the number shot dead by Algerian security forces since September last year. Extremists have staged several attacks on security forces in the run-up to presidential elections set for April 9 in which veteran leader Abdulaziz Bouteflika is seeking a third mandate. In the latest attack, a high-ranking army officer was killed and another soldier badly wounded in a bomb blast in northern Algeria, media reports said yesterday. The attack took place on Friday ahead of an election rally appearance by Bouteflika in the region. The rally went ahead despite the attack. The bombing came at the end of a week of bloodshed in which dozens of people were killed in attacks and clashes. Bouteflika, in power since 1999, is regarded as the favourite in the elections, and has vowed to continue a sharp crackdown on extremists.