Somali Rebels Offered Amnesty

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MOGADISHU, Somalia, Aug. 9 (UPI) — Somalia’s transitional government announced Tuesday it has offered amnesty to al-Shabaab fighters in Mogadishu if they surrender and renounce violence.

The offer follows the retreat of the al-Qaida-linked group from the capital, CNN reported.

A spokesman for the group, which has been waging an insurgency against the government since 2006, said the withdrawal was for humanitarian reasons.

The United Nations has declared a famine in five areas of southern Somalia including Mogadishu.

“We withdrew because we want to save lives of the poor civilians but we will launch operations against government (and African Union) forces in the coming hours,” said al-Shabaab spokesman Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage.

Previously al-Shabaab has called the famine an invention and an excuse for occupation. It issued threats to aid agencies delivering food to afflicted areas.

The United Nations said some 12 million people in the Horn of Africa region need assistance with Somalia being the worst hit.

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