News24

Forces search homes for guns

2009-09-09 13:42

Juba - Security forces blocked roads in a dawn operation on Wednesday in south Sudan's regional capital Juba, as police and soldiers searched houses for illegal weapons in a disarmament drive.

"It is a disarmament effort to take illegally held guns from the people," said Major General Kuol Diem Kuol, of the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). "The SPLA is supporting the police who are the forces leading this action."

Residents were confined to their homes and an AFP reporter witnessed soldiers posted on street corners stopping traffic. United Nations staff were also ordered to remain at home until the operation ended.

It was not immediately clear if the disarmament drive was limited to Juba, or if it would be rolled out to other areas.

"This is an ongoing operation run by the Ministry of the Interior," added Kuol.

Improving people's security

"It is aimed at improving people's security and safety by removing these dangerous weapons from civilian hands."

Security forces have launched several previous attempts to seize arms across the south, a region awash with automatic weapons left over from its 22-year civil war, which ended in a 2005 peace deal.

However, previous disarmament campaigns have been criticised for exacerbating violence. Heavy-handed but ineffective, they have left some regions at risk of attack from their still armed neighbours.

More than 2 000 people have died and 250 000 been displaced in inter-tribal violence across southern Sudan since January, according to the United Nations, which says the rate of violent deaths now surpasses that in the war-torn western region of Darfur.