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DATE=7/5/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-251446 TITLE=ALGERIA VIOLENCE (L ONLY) BYLINE=RICHARD ENGEL DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: OFFICIALS IN ALGERIA HAVE STARTED TO RELEASE IMPRISONED ISLAMIC MILITANTS AS PART OF AN OFFICIAL AMNESTY POLICY. RICHARD ENGEL IN CAIRO REPORTS ALGERIAN MILITANT LEADERS SAY THE MOVE MAY HELP ALGERIA'S NEW GOVERNMENT END THE NATION'S SEVEN-YEAR CIVIL WAR. TEXT: DOZENS OF ISLAMIC MILITANTS WALKED OUT OF THEIR JAIL CELLS FREE MEN. THEY WERE GREETED BY FAMILY MEMBERS, MANY OF WHOM WERE SHEDDING TEARS OF JOY. THE RELEASES COME ONE DAY AFTER ALGERIA'S NEWLY-ELECTED PRESIDENT, ABDEL AZIZ BOUTEFLIKA, PROMISED TO RELEASE ABOUT FIVE-THOUSAND ISLAMIC MILITANTS WHO WERE CONVICTED OF RELATIVELY MINOR CRIMES. LATE SUNDAY, THE COORDINATING COUNCIL OF THE "ISLAMIC SALVATION FRONT", ONE OF ALGERIA'S MOST POWERFUL AND BANNED ISLAMIC ORGANIZATIONS, WELCOMED THE RELEASES. THE COUNCIL SAID THE MOVE IS, IN ITS WORDS -- A POSITIVE STEP -- AND INSISTED THE PRISONERS HAD BEEN UNJUSTLY DETAINED. ALGERIAN OFFICIALS SAY THEY ARE RELEASING ONLY ISLAMISTS WHO WERE NOT DIRECTLY INVOLVED IN ACTS OF VIOLENCE, BUT MERELY PROVIDED THE MILITANTS WITH LOGISTIC AND MATERIAL SUPPORT. THE GOVERNMENT SAYS THOSE CONVICTED OF MURDER, RAPE, AND PLACING BOMBS WILL REMAIN BEHIND BARS. THE AMNESTY COMES AS ALGERIA CELEBRATES 37-YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE FROM FRANCE. ANALYSTS SAY IT IS AN IMPORTANT STEP FOR PRESIDENT BOUTEFLIKA WHO HAS MADE ENDING THE NATION'S CIVIL WAR A MAIN OBJECTIVE SINCE HIS ELECTION IN APRIL. THE ALGERIAN PRESIDENT SAID 100-THOUSAND PEOPLE HAVE DIED SINCE THE FIGHTING IN THE NORTH-AFRICAN NATION BEGAN IN 1992 -- THE YEAR THE GOVERNMENT BLOCKED AN ELECTION THE ISLAMISTS APPEARED POISED TO WIN. (SIGNED) NEB/RHE/JWH 05-Jul-99 10:53 AM EDT (1453 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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