President Saddam Hussein has urged Iraqi Kurds who fled after an abortive uprising to return to their homes and said punishment awaited only those who killed, raped, and stole. His appeal was made Saturday during a visit to the Kurdish region in northern Iraq, according to the Iraqi news agency INA. The trip was Saddam's first there since his Army crushed a month-long Kurdish uprising last month.
Saddam extended by one week a conditional pardon for Kurds Thursday. The offer ends Friday.
A Reuters correspondent in Irbil reported seeing several hundred men, women and children crammed into two dozen trucks and cars returning to the town Saturday.
Officials there said half of of the town's peacetime population of 100,000 had returned.