Islamic insurgents surrender in Algeria

Tuesday, June 1, 2004

CAIRO Algeria has reported the surrender of dozens of Islamic insurgents over the last month.

Algerian officials said the insurgents who have given themselves up come from a range of Islamic groups. They include the Armed Islamic Group and the Salafist Brigade for Combat and Call.

The insurgents were said to have requested amnesty as part of an offer relayed by Algerian President Abdul Aziz Bouteflika in 2002. At the time, only a few hundred of the more than 10,000 insurgents were said to have surrendered.

In April 2004, Bouteflika renewed his so-called reconciliation campaign, Middle East Newsline reported. In late May, Algerian authorities announced the arrival of insurgents to police stations where they applied for amnesty.

"The state reaches out to anybody who seeks to respond to the reconciliation call and leave the circle of those ostracized," Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Yehia said.

So far, officials reported that 18 insurgents surrendered to authorities during the last week of May. The insurgents were said to have come from locations throughout Algiera.

"The national reconciliation project is a large-scale and all-out project aimed at boosting national unity, recovering state authority and dignity and restoring civic awareness," Yehia said.

Nine members of the Salafist group have also surrendered, officials said. Two Salafist commanders were said to have surrendered in May in Jijil, about 460 kilometers east of Algiers.

Officials said the insurgents rejected a warning by Salafist leader Nabil Sahrawi to ignore the amnesty offer. They said the two Salafist commanders held negotiations with authorities prior to their surrender.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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