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Somalia offers 45-day amnesty to Islamist militants

Posted on Sep 03 2014 | IANS

Mogadishu, Sep 3 : With a major offensive against the radical group Al Shabaab under way, the Somali government Wednesday offered a 45-day amnesty to Islamist rebel fighters.

During an extraordinary meeting of the Somali cabinet, ministers discussed the current security situation of the country and reviewed progress of the new campaign to retake Al Shabaab-controlled areas, Xinhua reported.

"The government gives a 45-day amnesty to anti-peace groups to surrender and the government will pardon those who hand themselves in during that period," the government statement said.

The Somali government said it would create jobs and "better livelihoods" for those who take advantage of the amnesty, but those who fail to heed to the government call will be recognised as criminals and brought before the court of law.

The government also vowed to continue Operation Indian Ocean which it said was aimed at "eradicating terrorist groups".

The ministers called on the public to support the Somali and African Union troops (AMISOM) battling the Al Shabaab.

They also called on religious scholars to play their role in this critical juncture and explain to the people Al Shabaab's "misuse and misunderstanding" of Islam.

Somali government forces, backed by AMISOM troops, launched a major offensive on key Al-Shabaab strongholds in the south and centre of Somalia.

Several towns and villages in southern and central Somalia were retaken from militants of the Al Shabaab.

Officials say the extremist group will be flushed out of all of the areas under their control during Operation Indian Ocean, which started earlier last month.

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