MONITORS SAY HUNDREDS OF GUNS STILL UNACCOUNTED FOR IN SOLOMONS

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (June 19, 2002 – Radio New Zealand International)---The International Peace Monitoring Team (IPMT), which will complete its pull out from the Solomon Islands next week, says hundreds of guns remain in the community.

The IPMT arrived in the Solomons in December 2000 to monitor the peace and the surrender of weapons and help build confidence within the community following years of Guadalcanal-Malaita ethnic unrest over land and government job issues.

Since then the team has collected more than 2,000 weapons, mostly home made, but IPMT leader John Fennessy says there are many high powered guns taken from police armories for which there still is no accounting.

"Several hundred weapons seem still to be missing or at least unaccounted for in the sense that the police do not have them and the IPMT does not have them," said Fennessy.

Late last month, after a directive from Deputy Commissioner Wilfred Akao, dozens of guns illegally held by police officers were returned to the main armory at Rove.

Mr. Akao said he believes all guns held by police have now been returned.

For additional reports from Radio New Zealand International, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio New Zealand International.

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