Prisons began releasing thousands of Muslim militants under a mass Algerian Independence Day pardon issued by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika in his drive to end seven years of bloodshed. Appealing on television for support, Bouteflika told Algerians: "It is time for the people to intervene directly, to impose the solution they long for. I need popular support to sustain my efforts to resolve the crisis." The prisoner release was the first tangible fruit of a deal last month between the government and the guerrilla wing of the outlawed Islamic Salvation Front. Justice Ministry officials said that about 5,000 prisoners will go free.