Mauritanian president pardons 35 Islamic extremists, some had belonged to al-Qaida affiliate

NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania (AP) — Mauritania's justice minister says the president has pardoned 35 repented Islamic extremists.

Minister Abidine Ould El Khair says the 35 detainees had sworn in front of a mullah that they have renounced violence. Some had belonged to an al-Qaida affiliate.

The Western African nation of Mauritania has been plagued with jihadist violence in recent years, much of it linked to al-Qaida's North African branch.

None of the pardoned extremists had been accused of carrying out attacks against Westerners or the state of Mauritania.

Another 35 remained jailed, including the men accused of killing a group of French tourists in 2007 and a U.S. aid worker in 2009.

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