News / Africa

Mauritania Releases 35 Suspected Terrorists in End-of-Ramadan Amnesty

Mauritania has released 35 suspected terrorists from prison in an end-of-Ramadan amnesty.

Mauritanian Justice Minister Abdine Ould El-Khair says President Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz pardoned the men before the feast ending the Muslim holy month.

The justice minister says he hopes the prisoners released by the president will take the opportunity to "return to rationality" and learn from the lessons of Islamic scholars who campaigned for their release in talks with the Aziz government.

Charges

The prisoners were accused of terrorist activities supporting the group al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which began in Algeria in 1992 as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat. It changed its name several years ago to align itself more closely with the broader al-Qaida terrorist network.

The group claims responsibility for an attack on Mauritanian military barracks in the town of Nema two weeks ago that killed the attacker and injured three soldiers. In the past year, the group kidnapped three Spanish aid workers and an Italian couple in Mauritania. All five have since been released. The group says it shot dead a U.S. aid worker in the Mauritanian capital last year and set off a small explosive device outside the French Embassy in Nouakchott.

Among those released by President Aziz is Abdallahi Ould Mohamed Sidiya, who was once on Saudi Arabia's most wanted list. In remarks broadcast on state television, Sidiya renounced acts of violence.

Sidiya thanked Islamic leaders who campaigned for the men's release, saying they all hope to be good, reforming sons of the country, despite what he called the injustices they have suffered. Twenty of his colleagues were never tried, despite spending more than two years in jail. Sidiya says the men are willing to forgive injustices because the country is dear to them and its citizens are most generous.

Shun violence

Mauritanian political analyst Ahmed Mahmoud Ould Abu El Mali says the men released were part of a group that publicly agreed to reject violence.

El-Mali says the release is the first fruit of an ongoing dialogue between the government and religious leaders, and he expects more releases to follow.

Some of the men pardoned say they have never engaged in terrorist activities and are innocent of the charges against them. Last week, their family members petitioned President Aziz for an end-of-Ramadan pardon.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs