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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 March 2006, 02:26 GMT
Yemen frees 600 Shia insurgents
Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh
President Saleh says he wants to restore stability
More than 600 rebels have been freed in Yemen under an amnesty agreed by the president, its government has said.

The 627 followers of Shia cleric Hussein al-Houthi were captured during and following the rebellion he led over several months in 2004.

The rebels are from the Zaidi sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam. Yemen is a mainly Sunni country.

The rebels signed a covenant of loyalty and good conduct as a condition for their release, the government said.

Abdul Malak, a rebel commander and brother of Hussein - who was killed in battle in 2004 - issued a statement pledging "loyalty to... the homeland and the... republican regime, and that they would abide by the constitution and the laws of the land," a government announcement said.

The Yemeni Security Supreme Committee, which includes the interior and defence ministers, said the release was a result of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's "keenness to fulfil security and stability and to restore quiet to all the districts that were considered theatres for rebellion and sedition".

The pardon comes despite sporadic resumptions in fighting.

About 400 people died in Hussein's insurgency in 2004 in north-western Saada province.

Hundreds more died in March-April last year in the mountainous north-west, near the border with Saudi Arabia.

There were further clashes reported in Saada province last month.

The amnesty excludes more than 30 suspected rebels on trial in the capital Sanaa, accused of a series of deadly attacks against the security services.

Shia rebels go on trial in Yemen
15 Aug 05 |  Middle East
Deadly clashes flare up in Yemen
29 Mar 05 |  Middle East
Yemeni forces kill rebel cleric
10 Sep 04 |  Middle East
Yemen continues anti-cleric drive
09 Aug 04 |  Middle East
Yemen army 'crushes' rebellion
06 Aug 04 |  Middle East
Country profile: Yemen
11 Aug 04 |  Country profiles

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