Thursday, October 7, 2010

Algeria: '500 Al-Qaeda offspring born in northern mountains'

Let's hope the best for these children most of whom, reportedly have been abandoned by their fathers.

Algiers, 4 Oct. (AKI) - Some 500 children have been born to Al-Qaeda militants in the mountains of northern Algeria, according to the head of the country's national reconciliation commission, Marwan Azzi

The children are aged between five and 15 were born to militants hiding out in Algeria's rugged and mountainous Kabylie region, according to Azzi.

"Our commission has received 100 files on these cases and so far we have managed to get 37 couples to marry in order to legitimise children born out in the mountains," Azzi was cited as telling pan-Arab daily Al-Quds al-Arabi.

In the 1990s, the children's parents first fought for the feared Algerian Islamist armed group GIA, then for the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC).

The GSPC in 2007 aligned itself with Al-Qaeda to form the Al-Qaeda Organisation in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Many of the children's fathers have now laid down their arms handed themselves in to Algeria's authorities, taking advantage of a government amnesty, Azzi said.

Algeria was wracked by a brutal civil war in the 1990s after elections won by an Islamist party were annulled. An estimated 200,000 people died and despite a government amnesty announced in 2005, Islamist violence has not ended.

Since Spring 2007, when two suicide bombings in Algiers claimed by AQIM killed over 30 people, the army has conducted extensive operations in Kabylie in a bid to flush out Al-Qaeda militants.

Approximately 2,500 Islamists were released under the 2005 amnesty, many of whom may have returned to militant groups in Algeria, according to intelligence reports.

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