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Algerian Prime Minister calls on armed groups to surrender

Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal called armed groups operating in the Algerian mountains to surrender and return to the "right path".

On Wednesday, Algeria's state television quoted Sellal telling representatives of the civil society during his visit to Boumerdes district; east of the capital Algiers; "We want peace and goodness but we tell these terrorists they are mistaken in the right of the Algerian people who no longer live difficult years but now know progress and prosperity."

Sellal praised the Civil Harmony Act of 2000 issued by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, which granted amnesty to elements of the Islamic Salvation Army, the military arm of the Islamic Salvation Front.

"Thanks to the efforts of President Bouteflika, the country has gradually recovered security and its economy has reached the expected level and we can do better," the prime minister said.

The Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation in Algeria enacted in August 2005 and approved in a constitutional referendum in September 2006 granted conditional amnesty for terrorists who surrender before February 2006.

The charter, which aimed at ending years of violence between Islamists and the regime, excluded terrorists involved in collective massacres, bombing public places and rape.

Violence erupted between Islamists and the regime in the 1990s when the army abolished the Algerian parliamentary elections won by the Islamic Salvation Front.

According to state statistics 15,000 terrorists responded to the amnesty calls except for members of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

There are no official statistics on the number of terrorists in Algeria, especially after the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat joined Al-Qaeda in 2007 and changed its name to the Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and extended its activities to neighbouring countries such as Libya and Tunisia.

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