NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania – A security official says that 28 members of al-Qaida's North African branch have defected from the group and have surrendered to the Mauritanian army.
The security official says 28 boys from the ages of 14 to 22 on Sunday left al-Qaida of the Islamic Maghreb in northern Mali. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the press.
A new anti-terror law passed by the Mauritanian parliament in July gives AQIM members the option to give up arms and surrender to the army to return home and gain certain freedoms monitored by the army.
Since November, six other members of AQIM have turned themselves over to the Mauritanian army.
The al-Qaida offshoot AQIM operates in Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Niger and has kidnapped more than a dozen foreigners over the past several years.