Yemen buys arms off its civilians

Millions of dollars spent buying arms from ordinary civilians in weapons crackdown.

    Weapons bought included mortars, surface-to-air missiles and rocket-propelled grenades [AFP]

    Millions of weapons 

    The arms bought included mortars, surface-to-air missiles, anti-tank shells, rocket-propelled grenades as well as large quantities of mines, explosives and ammunition.

    Large amounts of weapons were left in the hands of civilians in Yemen after the 1994 civil war.

    The state does not publish official statistics about the number of firearms held in the country.

    Some unofficial estimates put the number as high as 60 million weapons, but some diplomats in the country say it is probably closer to 20 million, the equivalent of one for every Yemeni.

    The government campaign does not target small firearms in a country where there is an assault rifle in every home and men still wear daggers, the traditional weapon for self-defence.

    Rshad al-Alimi, Yemen's interior minister, said last week that the government had spent millions of dollars, buying up weapons as part of the crackdown.

    The impoverished country, on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula, has been widely seen in as a haven for fighters, including al-Qaeda supporters.

    The ancestral homeland of Osama bin Laden, Yemen joined the US-led "war on terror" after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the US and has been battling fighters within its borders for years.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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