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Saturday, 19 February, 2000, 07:44 GMT
Disarmament racket in Sierra Leone

soldiers Some of the guns handed in were hunting rifles


Officials running the disarmament programme in Sierra Leone have admitted they were caught out by a scam to make money.

Men have been handing in guns they claim they used to fight in the civil war, and then getting money for them.

But officials at Port Loko near the capital, Freetown, now say men who never fought in the war are handing in guns made and used for hunting before the war even started.

Exposed

The government-run newspaper, The Daily Mail, has reported a number of hoax claims.

But the paper does not say how many there were.

The disarmament programme, which was designed to help put in place last year's peace accord, is running well behind schedule.

Fewer than half the estimated 45,000 who fought in the war have handed in their weapons more than two months after the original deadline for completion.

16,500 former fighters have registered so far, according to the National Committee for Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR).

The DDR programme does not make clear how many actual weapons have been handed over.

Observers say the low registration figure is an important yardstick of the success of the peace process in Sierra Leone.

Nearly nine years of civil war formally ended on 7July, with the signing of the Lome Peace Accord.

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See also:
02 Feb 00 |  Africa
Rape, mutilation continue in Sierra Leone
24 May 99 |  Africa
Analysis: Battle to rebuild shattered Sierra Leone
23 Jan 00 |  Africa
Sierra Leone diamond trade halted
02 Dec 99 |  Africa
Gurkhas to tackle Sierra Leone troublespot
30 Nov 99 |  Africa
UN troops arrive in Sierra Leone
22 Nov 99 |  Africa
Sierra Leone rebels form political party
13 Feb 99 |  Africa
Grim facts of Sierra Leone's war

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