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Disarmament drive yields limited haul in C.Africa

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The Central African government collected several hundred weapons in a disarmament drive on Sunday but admitted it was a modest amount after months of rampant arms proliferation in the crisis-hit country.

The voluntary disarmament day called by Prime Minister Andre Nzapayeke was focused on eight districts in the capital Bangui and two neighbouring areas.

In the PK-5 districts, the last hold-out for the capital's Muslims after months of sectarian attacks, French and African peacekeepers collected 69 grenades, 13 bows, 62 arrows, 15 guns and some 200 munitions from around 192 individuals.

In Boy-rabe, the stronghold of the anti-balaka mainly Christian militia that has spearheaded attacks against Muslims, only 15 people responded to the call, handing in just three rockets, three mortars, three grenades and a few dozens munitions.

There was even more modest results in other areas.

But the prime minister at the3 end of day's efforts said, "I feel a great sense of satisfaction, there is a commitment of the people.

He added that the operation was aimed at "reviving the civil spirit of Central Africans".

But he admitted that "the satisfaction comes from the popular enthusiasm and not from what was collected, since three times the amount could return in the night."

One local in PK-5, Ali Yerima, told AFP he had bought five grenades in December when the anti-balaka launched an attack on former Seleka rebels -- a mostly Muslim group that temporarily seized control of the country last year -- as well as other Muslims in the city.

He said he had used four of them since then, and also has three machetes and two knives.

"I keep them because I want peace," he said.

Meanwhile on Sunday, the neighbouring country of Chad rejected claims in a United Nations report that it had supported the Seleka rebels when they seized control of the Central African Republic in March 2013.

An international enquiry set up by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reported on Thursday that "enough proof exists to think that" the rebels "received financial and military support from the government of Chad" to overthrow former president Francois Bozize last year.

Chad firmly rejected the accusations as "fantasies" in a statement on Sunday and called on the UN "to stop once and for all its gratuitous campaign against Chad".

The Central African Republic is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis after the Seleka rebels seizing power seized power last year and were forced out in January, leading to a relentless wave of sectarian revenge attacks. Thousands have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced in the violence.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140609/disarmament-drive-yields-limited-haul-cafrica