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Gun ban in Yemen ineffective

Aug. 5, 2009 at 1:20 PM

SANAA, Yemen, Aug. 5 (UPI) -- A two-year government ban on firearms in Yemen claimed only modest success as locals prefer customs over formal judicial measures, the U.N. reports.

The Interior Ministry in 2007 imposed a ban on firearms to control the spread of weapons in major cities.

The government says nearly 293,000 unregistered weapons have been seized since the ban was instituted.

The measure comes as Yemen attempts to control al-Qaida affiliates attempting to establish strongholds in the region. The United States and its allies in the region have pressured the Yemeni government to crack down on militants operating on its soil.

Khalid al-ANSI, a lawyer for the National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedom, tells the U.N. humanitarian news agency IRIN that the despite the weapons seizures, the ban is only somewhat effective.

"The availability of small arms among citizens exacerbated the issue of revenge killings, and lack of public awareness hinders government and civil society efforts to control the spread of arms," he said.

Abdul Rahman al-Marwani, chairman of the anti-violence Dar Al-Salam Organization, says many locals simply, meanwhile, embrace a culture of weapons as trust for the national justice system declines, adding as many as 1,200 people are killed or injured by firearms each year.

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