40 police officers wounded in Algeria shale gas protest

40 police officers wounded in Algeria shale gas protest
2 min read
02 March, 2015
Officials say dozens of police officers have been wounded during anti-shale protests in Algeria’s In Salah region, days after it was reported that police had broken up similar demonstrations in the capital and made several arrests.
Algerian protesters scuffle with security forces during a demonstration [Anadolu/Getty]
At least 40 police officers were injured in clashes with demonstrators opposed to the use of controversial "fracking" technique to extract shale gas from the Sahara region.

An Algerian interior ministry statement on Monday said that the town of In-Salah was hardest hit by the protests on Sunday evening initiated by a "group of young people protesting against shale gas operations".

Protesters set fire to the headquarters of In-Salah district and the residence of the district chief, as well as part of a police dormitory and a police truck.

The protests are latest in two months of unrest in In-Salah, the town closest to the drilling sites.

At least 20 people were injured in clashes in Tamanrasset, in southern Algeria, the Anadolu news agency quoted Taqi Abdel-Rahman, a local activist as saying.

The interior ministry said a total of 40 police were injured in the Sunday clashes, but did not give a figure for protesters.
     The interior ministry said 40 police were injured in the Sunday clashes.

Anti-shale gas demonstrations have increased in the cities of the Algerian Sahara since late December, when the Algerian oil company, Sonatrach, announced it had completed its first pilot drilling in the In-Salah region.

Sonatrach is using "hydraulic fracturing", or "fracking" to extract the gas - a method that has been criticised as harmful to the environment. The process fractures the earth uses a mix of chemicals that have been blamed for crop and water pollution and a number of human health issues.

Sonatrach announced in early February that its exploratory drilling for shale gas  would continue despite mounting hostility among people living nearby.

Algeria has seen huge investment in shale gas to compensate for declining oil revenues.

According to international studies, Algeria has the fourth largest reserves of shale gas globally, after the US, China and Argentina, with an estimated 19.8 billion cubic metres.