But shortly before the discussions began, guerrillas suspected of belonging to the most extreme anti-government group ambushed a military convoy east of the capital, Algiers, on Sunday, killing six soldiers and wounding two.
The draft law is the centrepiece of efforts by the recently elected civilian President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, to set in motion a process of national reconciliation after a war in which 100,000 people have died.
The amnesty mainly covers members of the AIS guerrilla organisation, military wing of the banned Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), who were imprisoned for mostly non-violent offences. The AIS reached a truce with the government in October, promising to end its war against the state and join the battle against the GIA movement, alleged to be responsible for Sunday's ambush.
Though the amnesty has wide public support, it is opposed by sections of the military cabal which holds ultimate power.
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