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Burma Announces Amnesty for 6,000 Prisoners

Burma's military-ruled government has announced its plans to release more than 6,000 prisoners.

It is not immediately clear how many, if any, political prisoners would be among those to be freed. Last September, Burma granted amnesty to more than 9,000 prisoners, but only several were political prisoners.

Human rights groups estimate that Burmese authorities are detaining more than 2,100 people because of their political or religious beliefs.

In a statement broadcast by state-run media Friday, the Burmese government said it was releasing the prisoners for humanitarian reasons, for the sake of family members and to demonstrate the good will of the government.

The announcement said the release of the prisoners would begin on Saturday, February 21.

The announcement comes just one day after the United Nations special human rights envoy completed a visit to Burma.

During his visit, Tomas Ojea Quintana was unable to meet with senior junta leader General Than Shwe or detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

But, he said Burma's home minister agreed to consider his recommendation for the gradual release of political prisoners.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.