The Algerian People’s National Army (PNA) says it has destroyed a total of 758 607 anti-personnel mines and land-mines along the country’s eastern and western borders in the decade between 2004 and December 2014.
Most of these mines date back to the 1956-1962 colonial-era war of independence against France. The first de-mining operations in Algeria took place between 1963 and ended in 1988 after clearing an estimated 8 million mines which were laid by the French Army over a 2 500 km stretch. However further de-mining operations were needed to remove mines which were laid by both government and Islamist rebel forces during the 1992-1995 civil war.
According to the Algerian Press Service, the army’s Combat Engineers Corps has released updated information showing that 3 661 mines were cleared from the 2nd, 3rd and 5th Military Regions in December 2014 alone.
The total number of mines cleared to date is 758 607, of which 639 436 were anti-personnel.
The programme was initially scheduled for completion in 2011 but Algeria sought more time from the 2011 Meeting of State Parties (MSP) to the Mine Test Ban Treaty (MTB) and got permission to extend the programme to April 2017.
The remaining clearance work is concentrated on two mine-belts – one in the east covering 31 municipalities across four provinces and another in the west which covers 12 municipalities in two provinces.
The army has set itself a target of clearing 4.9 linear kilometres of minefield per month.