Algeria: Arab Spring has boosted terror groups

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ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — The Arab Spring has increased the influence and power of terrorist groups, Algeria's foreign minister said Tuesday, calling for more international support for vulnerable states in sub-Saharan Africa.

Speaking at a strategic forum on regional threats, Ramtane Lamamra said Algerian authorities had long warned about instability in neighboring Libya that has created a zone of insecurity across Africa's north and west.

"What is commonly called the Arab Spring allowed local terrorist groups to increase their ideological influence and power," Lamamra said at the conference, sponsored in part by a U.S. Department of Defense think tank. "Today, a new front of instability linked to the Libyan situation has had regional repercussion which should have been predicted."

The minister pointed to the "vulnerability" of sub-Saharan countries amid the threat of armed radical groups like al-Qaida and Boko Haram, which has sought to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria and was behind the April 15 kidnapping of more than 300 schoolgirls.

"In a disastrous economic context, the social challenges faced by sub-Saharan states cannot be met without considerable support from the international community," Lamamra said.

In 2011, pro-democracy movements overthrew governments in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, but Algeria was largely unaffected: Many Algerians crave stability after violence in the country's 1990s Islamic insurgency left 200,000 dead.

Algeria at the time warned against Western support for Libyans rebelling against Moammar Gadhafi.

In recent months, Libya has seen the rise of heavily armed militias and become a center for regional weapons trafficking. Radical Islamic groups briefly took over northern Mali, to the south, in 2012, and last year terrorist groups lead a deadly attack an Algerian gas plant.

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