Algeria destroys 11 000 mines


The Algerian army has detected and destroyed 11 000 landmines along its eastern and western borders from its war of independence from France in the 1950s and 1960s.

The APS news agency reported yesterday that the mines were uncovered as part of a de-mining operation in areas where the French army had planted mines between 1956 and 1959.

The 11 000 mines destroyed last month brings the total to 1 135 084 destroyed by Algeria’s army.

In 2007 France gave Algeria details on where its forces had laid millions of mines on its borders during Algeria’s struggle for independence in order to stop the Algerian resistance movement from infiltrating the country from neighbouring Morocco and Tunisia. Millions of these mines were laid on the Challe and Morice Lines on the eastern and western borders of Algeria. The heavily fortified Morice Line (named for the French defence minister, André Morice), consisted of an electrified fence, barbed wire, and mines over a 320 kilometer stretch of the Tunisian border.

Algeria, a signatory of the Ottawa Convention since 1997, is making significant progress towards the convention’s obligations in particular in terms of destruction of the entire stock of anti-personnel mines. The Ottawa Convention lays out guidelines on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines.

The Algerian government has estimation that approximately three million antipersonnel mines have been laid in an area of 5 700 square kilometres. In 2009 alone, landmines claimed more than 5 000 victims last year alone.