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Amnesty not for Al Qaeda: Pakistan

Agencies | April 29, 2004 09:51 IST

Pakistan on Wednesday said an amnesty offer for foreign terrorists hiding in the South Waziristan region is open to all but senior Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.

Last week Pakistan granted amnesty to five tribal leaders accused of harbouring Al Qaeda terrorists.

The move was seen as reconciliatory gesture after an army operation in South Waziristan in March left 120 people dead.

The government also gave terrorists, believed to include Central Asians and Arabs, until this coming Friday to surrender.

"We believe that all the foreign elements should surrender and hand in their weapons to the government," Interior Minister Faisal Saleh Hayyat told Pakistan's private Geo television network in an interview aired on Wednesday.

They have been assured that except for the top Taliban and Al Qaeda leadership, "anyone who surrenders will not be given to any other government or agency", he said.

Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, are suspected to be hiding in South Waziristan.

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