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Monday, October 09, 2006

Top Algerian militant returned to armed fight

Algiers, 9 Oct. (AKI) - The leader and founder of Algeria's Armed Islamic Group (GIA) Hasan al-Hattab has reportedly resumed armed combat. Algerian media reported that the announcement was made by Abu Musab Abdel Wudud, the leader of the Salafite Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), an offshoot of GIA which has sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda. If confirmed, the news would be a major blow to the process of national reconciliation launched last year by president Abdelaziz Bouteflika who promoted an amnesty for militants who gave up armed fight. Al-Hattab had reportedly given up combat and adhered to the national reconciliation plan last year.

GIA was formed in 1992 after the Algerian government cancelled the likely victory of the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) in 1991 legislative elections. It is held responsible for the nail bomb attack on the Paris metro in 1995 as well as many attacks on civilian and military targets in Algeria.

The GSPC, Algeria's largest outlawed militant group, has been operating since 1996. Earlier this year, it rejected the amnesty offered by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika aimed at ending years of bloodshed, during which a reported 200,000 people have died.

In contrast to the GIA, the GSPC reportedly gained popular support by vowing to avoid civilian targets inside Algeria - a promise it has not kept.
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