RIYADH (AFP) -The Saudi monarch said that wanted Islamist militants who surrender will be pardoned, exactly two years after a royal amnesty was issued to lure Al-Qaeda followers to turn themselves in.
“In continuation of the amnesty” issued in June 2004, King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz has given orders to pardon militants who hand themselves in to the authorities, SPA official news agency said.
“He who turns himself in will be included in the amnesty,” SPA quoted the king as telling a cabinet meeting.
Just six wanted militants took up the offer of a one-month royal amnesty in 2004. Of these, only one was on the kingdom’s 26-strong “most-wanted” list issued in December 2003.
All six were released in November the same year.
In June 2005, the Saudi authorities issued a new list of 36 most-wanted suspected militants, which included 15 inside the kingdom and 21 others abroad.
Saudi security forces killed six militants and wounded another on Friday in a pre-dawn firefight in Riyadh, in which 17 policemen were also wounded. Forty-three suspected Islamist militants were arrested a day after the shootout.
King Abdullah pledged in April to annihilate Al-Qaeda-linked militants in the kingdom, vowing to “combat the ideology of those who accuse others of infidelity”.
Security forces have succeeded in eliminating several successive Al-Qaeda commanders in Saudi Arabia.
At least 90 civilians, 55 security personnel and 136 militants have died since the unrest began in May 2003, according to the last official tally. Hundreds more have been wounded.