ALGIERS, Algeria, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Anti-terrorism leaders say a number of al-Qaida militants in training have been killed by the "black death, a plague that ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages.
At least 40 al-Qaida followers have died since the disease swept through a training camp in Algeria, The Sun reported Monday. The deaths became known when security forces found a body beside a road.
"This is the deadliest weapon yet in the war against terror. Most of the terrorists do not have the basic medical supplies needed to treat the disease," one security source told the British publication, although it wasn't reported how the deadly outbreak started. "It spreads quickly and kills within hours. This will be really worrying al-Qaida."
The victim was associated with al-Qaida in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb, the largest and most powerful al-Qaida group outside the Middle East, the Sun said.
Al-Qaida leaders said they fear the plague has spread to other cells or to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
The epidemic began in the hideouts of the al-Qaida in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb in Algiers, sources told The Sun. The group fled to Bejaia and Jijel provinces.
The plague has several forms: Bubonic plague is spread by infected rat fleas and pneumonic plague is airborne bacteria spread similarly to flu.
Unlike the epidemic in 1665 when 30,000 Londoners died, world health officials said plague outbreaks now can be treated with antibiotics and deaths are rare.