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Ethiopian security forces have captured 20 Kalashnikov rifles and 53,921 light and heavy gun machine bullets in a sting operation, an Ethiopian official said on Wednesday.
The illegal weapons cache was captured during a joint sting operation carried out by the Ethiopia National Intelligence and Security Service and Police in Ethiopia’s northeastern Afar regional state.
Ahmed Humed, Deputy Commissioner of Afar Region Police Commission, said the large weapons cache was seized on Tuesday afternoon as it was being smuggled inside a freight truck, which entered Ethiopia from neighbouring Djibouti.
Humed further said that, in recent days, his police commission intercepted several rounds of large weapons cache, which were smuggled to Ethiopia from neighbouring countries.
Ethiopia strictly controls licensing and movement of arms across the country and private arms ownership is relatively rare in the East African country.
Violent crimes are relatively rare in Ethiopia, but recent incidences of armed robberies in major cities and sporadic ethnic and religious unrest have led to a spike in demand of illicit arms ownership.
Ownership of arms is also seen as a sign of prestige and security in parts of Ethiopia, which has seen a history of rebellion and conflict.
The Ethiopian government is preparing a legislation that puts heavy prison terms on arms dealers, in a bid to stem the rising trade in illegal weapons in the east African country.