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Algerian Issues Terror Amnesty

July 4, 1999

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) _ Algeria’s president issued an amnesty Sunday for thousands of people implicated in financing and providing support to terrorists.

An official communique announced the amnesty ahead of Monday’s festivities for Algeria’s independence day celebrating 37 years since the former colony won its freedom from France.

The amnesty does not apply to violent crimes or rapes and the conditions will be outlined in proposed laws for civil pact that were presented to the Algerian parliament Sunday.

The amnesty is part of a policy of reconciliation that President Abdelaziz Bouteflika began following his election as president in April.

The communique did not specify how many people would benefit from the amnesty and officials refused to say whether it would cover imprisoned leaders of the banned Islamic Salvation Front.

It was believed that the amnesty probably would cover those people who were involved in financing and providing support to terrorists, not to those individuals who had carried out attacks.

Algeria has been engulfed in an Islamic insurgency that began in 1992 after the military-backed government canceled elections that the Islamic Salvation Front was set to win.

The parliament is to debate the plan for ``civil accord″ on Tuesday.

The measure, which includes 42 different articles, will be put then to a referendum for which no date has been set.

Bouteflika has said he would resign if his peace plan is rejected. The president has estimated 100,000 people have been killed since the start of the Islamic insurgency in 1992.

The peace plan calls for a staggered amnesty for Islamic insurgents, divided into three categories based on their implication in attacks and massacres.

The plan would provide a basis to revoke the ban on the Islamic Salvation Army. The insurgency group called a truce in 1997 after negotiations with military authorities and said earlier this month it was ready to lay down its arms.

The group is the armed wing of the Islamic Salvation Front.

The radical Armed Islamic Group has called the rival insurgency group’s actions ``treason″ and continues attacks.

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