The New York Times writes that Algeria is the second-largest country in Africa, with over four-fifths of its territory covered by the Sahara Desert. This country has a population of 35 million people who are mainly located near the northern coast. Algeria won its independence from France in 1962 in a war that began in 1954. It has been estimated the
war’s death toll was greater than one million Algerians. Algeria’s government has been operating under a state of emergency for nearly two decades, due to continued hostilities with Islamic militants. Today, Feb. 4, 2013, Al Jazeera has reported, Algeria beefs up army presence on Mali border.
The Algerian army has strengthened its positions on the border with war-torn Mali in order to prevent incursions by armed rebels who are fleeing north. Mohamed Baba Ali, a member of parliament in the garrison town of Tamanrasset has said, "The army has been deployed on the border for a while, but reinforcements have been sent since the beginning of the war in Mali. It's about preventing the infiltration of terrorist groups." Algeria, which has traditionally opposed military intervention in Mali, was reluctantly drawn into this conflict when it agreed to allow French warplanes use its airspace.
French officials said on Monday that the army reinforcement on the border has come as French warplanes have been pounding targets around Kidal in northern Mali in an effort to defeat rebels who have retreated from urban centers to the mountainous areas. The Algerian government has not commented since France launched major air strikes on Sunday near Kidal, which is the last bastion of armed extremists being targeted in northern Mali as part of a French-led offensive which began on January 11.