Algeria's long-awaited metro system opens in Algiers

A new metro subway train arrives at the newly opened metro system in Algiers, October 31, 2011. The metro cost an estimated 90bn dinars ($1.2bn; £750m) to build

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Thousands of people have used the underground metro in Algeria's capital, Algiers, after it finally opened 28 years after construction first began.

The BBC's Chloe Arnold says there was a festival atmosphere, as the opening coincided with a national holiday.

The 10-stop, 6.5km (four mile) line is only the second rail system of its kind in Africa, after the one in Cairo.

After work began in 1982, work was halted because of an economic crisis and a decade-long civil war.

The first passengers were able to use the metro a day after it was officially launched by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

Our correspondent says security was tight when the metro opened, though many of the police officers were showing passengers how to use the ticket machines and escalators.

Algerians told the BBC they were proud of their new rail network, which connects Algiers' Central Post Office to the suburb of Kouba.

Hassan, who was riding the metro with a friend, said they had waited 30 years for this day, and gone through a lot of hardship while construction was going on.

Algeria went through 10 years of civil unrest as government forces fought an Islamist insurgency and as many as 250,000 people lost their lives.

"This is a great day for our nation," Hassan said.

Work on the project was first interrupted when a collapse in worldwide oil and gas prices sent Algeria's economy into free fall.

The country is the world's fourth-largest exporter of natural gas.

The metro cost an estimated 90bn dinars ($1.2bn; £750m) to build.

A single journey will cost 50 dinars ($0.67; £0.47) - a price many Algerians have complained is too high.

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