Somalia offers amnesty to militants in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU - Somalia offered an amnesty tomilitants still fighting in the capital Mogadishu on Tuesday,three days after the country's president declared victory overthe insurgent al-Shabaab group, which has withdrawn most of itscombatants from the city.

It was the first time the interim government, which hasstruggled to quash a four-year Islamist rebellion, had offeredimmunity to al-Shabaab fighters.

"The Transitional Federal Government of Somalia has offereda general amnesty to insurgent fighters remaining in Mogadishuwho give themselves up and renounce violence," the governmentsaid in a statement.

Some experts say al-Shabaab's pull-out merely extends thegovernment's hold on the capital by a few districts, but will dolittle to bring tangible peace to the rest of the anarchiccountry and may herald a new wave of al Qaeda-inspired attacks.

The amnesty did not appear to extend to al-Shabaab fightersoutside the capital. The al-Qaida-affiliated militants controlmuch of southern Somalia where 2.8 million people facestarvation because of drought and conflict.