(AFP) Nearly 55,000 people accused of committing “terrorist offenses” have faced legal proceedings in Algeria since the country’s devastating civil war in the 1990s, the justice minister has said.
It was the first such revelation by the authorities, which use the term “terrorists” for armed Islamists active in Algeria where the civil war killed 200,000 people.
The brutal conflict broke out between armed Islamist groups and security forces after the army canceled a 1992 election that Islamist politicians were poised to win.
It ended when Algerians voted in a referendum in September 2005 to approve a reconciliation deal that led to 15,000 Islamists being pardoned in exchange for surrendering.
Justice Minister Tayeb Louh told parliament on Monday his ministry had set up a database on the number of people who have “faced legal proceedings for terrorist crimes.”
The database, set up in 2014, shows that from the 1990s to December 21 this year, authorities instigated legal proceedings against 54,457 people.
Louh said the number includes those who were pardoned under the terms of the referendum, but he did not spell out the exact nature of the proceedings, nor did he give details about the other cases.
Algeria has sentenced hundreds of people to death, but no execution has been carried out since 1993.
Groups affiliated to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) remain active in the northeast where they carry out regular attacks on the security forces.
Authorities have also reported attacks by the Jund al-Khilafa extremist movement which is linked to the ISIS.
More than 100 suspected Islamists have been killed by the Algerian army since the beginning of the year, according to an AFP count compiled from official statements.