Yemen Launches Campaign to Disarm Citizens
Yemeni security forces were deployed in the streets of the capital city of Sanaa and other main urban centers on Monday in a new drive to disarm citizens with unlicensed weapons, witnesses and officials told Reuters.
They said security forces had taken up positions at road junctions and were searching cars for weapons.
"We only allow those who have official permission to carry weapons to pass, otherwise we confiscate any illicit weapons we find," a security officer said.
Unofficial estimates put the number of firearms in Yemen at nearly 60 million, making the country's collection of weapons almost three times the size of its population, which is only 18 million.
Campaigns in the last few years have failed to reduce the number of unlicensed weapons in the country -- which is plagued by kidnappings and violence, said the agency, adding that the government in 1998 agreed on a draft law regulating the carrying and possession of weapons and sent it to parliament for approval. Parliament has so far failed to discuss the law.
Analysts say members of parliament were reluctant to approve the law because it would limit the number of their armed guards.
Early May, the parliament set up an ad hoc panel to propose ways of settling revenge cases and reconciling feuding tribes.
In its first meeting, the newly formed body set up a committee to deal with the problem.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh had asked the council to "seriously seek solutions for...revenge cases and kidnapping of foreigners." President Saleh underlined that ending revenge and kidnapping issues would help the government “proceed with building the homeland.”
"The first issue you would deal with is the revenge phenomenon; we have to spare no effort to bring it to an end," he was quoted as saying.
More than 200 foreigners, mostly Westerners, have been kidnapped by Yemen's tribes since the early 1990s to be used as bargaining chips with the government for better services or the release of jailed relatives, an article by the weekly Yemen Observer said in December of last year - Albawaba.com
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