By Staff Reporter
March 11, 2020 (Ezega.com) -- Ethiopia has made the largest ever seizure of weapons while being smuggled into its territory by International Arms Trafficking Gang from neighboring Djibouti, the Ethiopian intelligence official has said.
The National Information Security Service (NISS) on Tuesday said in a statement that more than 18 thousand Turkish made pistols and other ammunition valued at more than half a billion birr were seized while being smuggled into the country in two containers.
“If the firearms had entered the country and distributed, they would have caused critical security damage against the people and sovereignty of the nation,” the statement said.
Over the past few years, weapons trafficking have been increasing in Ethiopia, mainly due to unfolding ethnic clashes in different parts of the country.
According to NISS’ statement, 24 Ethiopian suspects who were preparing to take delivery and distribute the firearms were apprehended and investigation against them has started.
The firearms that were enclosed in textile and electronic goods came from the Mersin port of Turkey, the statement noted.
NISS said it has been following up the matter for five months now and identified the smugglers within the country and abroad.
The statement further said some members of an international arms trafficking gang were also apprehended in joint operations carried out with intelligence offices of Djibouti, Sudan, Turkey and the United States.
NISS said it has managed to dismantle the international arms trafficking gang’s attempts to smuggle the firearms into the country.
According to NISS, seven foreigners who were allegedly involved in the smuggling of the firearms were identified and, until now, two Sudanese suspects were apprehended in collaborations of the Sudan intelligence offices.
The Ethiopian intelligence officials said it is working with intelligence offices of Turkey and the US to track down the remaining foreign suspects.
The firearms were intended to escalate the ongoing conflicts in different parts of the country said NISS which called for support for successful operations firearms smuggling.
In April last year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government said his government had seized 21 machine guns, more than 33,000 handguns, 275 rifles and 300,000 bullets in different parts of the country in months operations
The spread of small arms has been partly blamed for hundreds of killings in various ethnic conflicts over the past two years that have displaced more than 2.7 million people.
Critics say many Ethiopians have resorted to arming themselves due to the volatile political situation and a perception of the weakening of law and order situation in the country.
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