At least 2,800 weapons recovered from ex-combatants in a three-week operation in the southern Pool region, site of several civil wars between 1998 and 2003, have been destroyed, according to a government official.
"On Monday afternoon, in Kinkala, we incinerated some 2,873 weapons collected from ninja ex-combatants in the Pool region," Moandzibi Olingoba, the commissioner in charge of the economic reintegration of former fighters, told IRIN on 2 March. Kinkala, the main town in the Pool, is located 70km south of the capital, Brazzaville.
The Congolese government on 10 February launched the operation to purchase some 3,000 weapons mainly from the estimated 5,000 ex-combatant ninjas and others illegally possessing weapons in the region. The ninjas fought the Congolese army under former rebel chief, Frédéric Bintsamou, alias Pasteur Ntoumi.
"The operation to repurchase the weapons proceeded without a snag. We achieved 95.7 percent of our objective," Olingoba said.
According to the deputy high commissioner for the reintegration of ex-combatants, Col François Bouesse, the buy-back price for a Kalashnikov was 100,000 CFA francs (US$200). "The more weapons ex-combatants bring in, the more money they will get," Bouesse said on 10 February.
The operation, which cost about $1 million, was extended by eight days to allow more ex-combatants to sell their weapons in the 17 offices throughout the region.
At least 34,000 illegal weapons are estimated to be in illegal circulation in the country, mostly in the Pool region, according to a 2005 study by the Swiss NGO Small Arms Survey. No new surveys have been carried out.
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions