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    Militant groups join peace process

    SAR-I-PUL/PUL-I-KHUMRI (PAN): Two rebel groups joined the peace process in northern Sar-i-Pul and Baghlan provinces on Saturday, officials said.

    Eight militants, lead by Mullah Hayatullah, surrendered in the Booq Aabi area of the provincial capital, the police chief said.

    Brig. Gen. Mohammad Yaqub Zabuli told Pajhwok Afghan News the men surrendered their weapons to police.

    Mullah Hayatullah said: "I want an opportunity to eke out a living." They had been wrong in fighting against the government, he acknowledged.

    In northern Baghlan province, a five-member insurgent group surrendered in Tala Barfak district, said the provincial council chief, Abdul Samad Stanikzai.

    He identified the rebel leader as Mullah Hafizullah, saying the fighters had renounced militancy as a result of efforts by the High Peace Council's provincial chapter.  

    Police chief, Brig. Gen. Asadullah Sherzad, hoped with rebels' surrender would help improve security in Tala Barfak district.

    Mullah Hafizullah recalled: "I joined the Taliban movement two years ago and have since been involved in anti-government activities."

    mm/mud