Algerian Military Chief: Number of armed militants has dropped
The Algerian army chief of staff, General Mohammed Lamari, said the number of armed militants in Algeria has dropped to only 700 from a peak of 27,000, in an interview published in Cairo Tuesday.
"When we began (...) we had 27,000 armed terrorists. Now the number of active terrorists is estimated at 700, which does not represent a danger to the republic or the country's institutions," he told Al-Ahram.
Lamari was quoted as saying the 700 "terrorists" are "targeting inhabitants in isolated regions and even tourists," referring to the abduction of 31 European tourists in the Sahara desert in May.
He said that in 2002, 186 terrorists belonging to the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), "in the center, were eliminated."
However, he added that "220 young men returned to the ranks" of this group.
In addition, with presidential elections looming, Lamari said he is not opposed to the election "of a president of the Republic from the Islamic current, if he maintains the constitution, democracy and the multiparty system."
"We strongly welcome whom the people choose, even if it's Abdallah Djaballah, head of the Islah (reform) movement, on condition that it respect the rules of the game," General Lamari said. (Albawaba.com)
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