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Algeria: 900 mosques, prayer halls shut for 'national security'

last update: November 14, 15:01

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Algiers (AKI) - The Algerian government last week closed around 900 mosques and prayer halls throughout the country because it says they were used for meetings by suspected Islamic terrorists, Algerian newspaper El-Khabar reported on Monday.

Authorities say they Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) was particularly active in the places of worship where meetings among militants took place in secret, the report said.

The prayer halls were opened illegally, El-Khabar said, ignoring laws requiring approval by the Ministry of Religious Affairs before they can be opened.

AQIM grew out of the Salafist Group for Call and Combat, and has its roots in an Islamist militia involved in the civil war in the 1990s that cost between 150,000 and 200,000 lives.

In recent years it has expanded its activities to include Mali, Niger and Mauritania and is considered by experts to be the most active Al-Qaeda offshoot

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