Mass protests broke out Saturday in three southern Algerian cities against hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for shale gas, eyewitnesses have said.
They added that the protests were organized by some of the North African state's political parties.
The city of Ouargla – located 800km southeast of capital Algiers – saw the largest protest against fracking for shale gas.
"We succeeded in the challenge and were able to unite the silent opposition in Algeria in protest against fracking," al-Taher Belabas, a leading member of Algeria's Popular committee Against Fracking, told The Anadolu Agency.
Soweid Farouq, a leading member of another anti-fracking movement, for his part, told AA that he and his colleagues were "fighting against the exclusion imposed by the authorities on a wide segment of society."
"The popular movement must go on, not only in the south, but also everywhere in Algeria so we're able change the government's systemic exclusionary policy against its citizens," Farouq said.
An Algerian security source, meanwhile, said that there were around 1,000 participants in the Ouargla protest.
Nevertheless, the leaders of anti-fracking movements put the number of participants in the same protest at 25,000.
There had been similar protests in the southern cities of Ain Salah and Tamanrasset, according to eyewitnesses.
Earlier this month, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika warned against "attempts to destabilize" his country against a backdrop of protests against fracking for shale gas in Algeria's southern region.
The septuagenarian president had ordered an army general to negotiate with the protesters.
Protests against shale gas exploration have raged in the southern part of the North African state for almost two months now, with protesters demanding the suspension of exploration, citing its perceived effects on the environment.
With reserves estimated at 19.8 billion cubic meters, Algeria is the world's third largest holder of shale gas – after China and Argentina – according to a recent U.S. government report.
By Mohamed El Bahrawi