Terrorism: Algeria bolsters port and airport security

Security stepped up at production sites after In Amenas attack

06 March, 14:18

(ANSAmed) - TUNIS, MARCH 6 - Ever since the 1990s and the civil war that raged throughout the country, Algeria has spent vast amounts of economic and other resources on the security sector.

Security has taken on even more importance today, with such areas as Kabylie and the southern regions serving as a breeding ground for a strain of Islamic terrorism that has its eyes set beyond the country's borders and is steadily gaining strength . As the recent In Amenas gas facility incident - where a group of terrorists killed a large number of workers before being killed themselves - shows, all of the country's production sites are at risk of attack. Consequently, the government has drawn up a wide-ranging programme to bolster protection of this type of facility as much as possible, with special focus on ports and airports, seen as potential targets for armed Islamists. A plan has been launched to raise security standards across the country in general, including an extension of the buffer zones that protect facilities essential to Algerian communications systems. The measures have already been published in the official gazette and are gradually coming into force, with a focus on four ports - Ténès, Chlef, Boumerdès and Tlemcen - and seven airports: Tamanrasset, Tébessa, Tiaret, Sétif, M'sila, Mascara and Ouargla.

Although an increase in general security measures is the stated aim of the move, it is clear that the decision was made following the progressive deterioration of the situation in the Sahel, the vast stretch of sub-Saharan Africa where Islamic terrorism is trying to gain an ever stronger foothold, through activities which many times seek to draw attention to it.

The plan will not be managed solely by the central government in Algiers. Territorial structures such as municipalities will have to carry out the implementation decrees, drawing up the borders of the port and airport areas under their control, areas in which new constructions will be prohibited if not found to be in the general interest. Thus, only buildings for public use and not housing will be granted permission.

Along the same lines, constructions held to present a risk to the protection of port and airport facilities may be demolished after compensating the owners. Telecommunication systems and advertising billboards will be prohibited, with any existing ones assessed for compatibility with the security criteria adopted. (ANSAmed).

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