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Islamic Militants Hope for Amnesty

September 27, 1999

PARIS (AP) _ Sixteen more Islamic militants have surrendered to Algerian authorities, taking advantage of a peace plan that would grant them amnesty, the Liberte daily reported Monday.

Thirteen of the militants gave themselves up in Oran, 300 miles west of Algiers. They turned in Kalashnikov rifles, about 35 pounds of explosives and other weapons, the newspaper said.

Three other militants gave themselves up in the city of Tizi Ouzou, Liberte reported.

More than 98 percent of Algerian voters on Sept. 16 favored a peace referendum that called for Islamic militants to give up their arms and turn themselves in.

The main plank of the plan grants amnesty or a reduced jail term for Islamic insurgents, except those convicted of rape, murder or planting bombs, provided they relinquish their weapons.

Even before the voting earlier this month, several hundred members of the radical Armed Islamic Group turned in their weapons in hopes of qualifying for the amnesty. Some already have appeared before the probation commission and have been freed.

The peace plan, spearheaded by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, aims to end the violence that has left 100,000 dead since 1992 by trying to reintegrate Islamic militants into society.

Militant Islamic groups have waged an insurgency since 1992, when the army canceled elections the now-banned Islamic Salvation Front was poised to win.

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