Nigeria: May 22, 2004


Plateau state, wracked by tribal and religious violence, is trying to buy weapons from the tribal warriors. It is offering $730 for each rifle, and $180 for home made rifles and pistols (lengths of pipe modified to fire bullets short distances). There will also be rewards of $140 for tips that lead to hidden weapons and ammunition.  The gun buyback program ends on June 7. After that, aggressive search operations will go after illegal weapons. The introduction of cheap (as little as a hundred bucks for an AK-47) weapons in Africa during the 1990s made these tribal conflicts much more deadly. No longer did just the biggest and strongest men go on these raids, armed with bows, spears and machetes. With AK-47s, slightly built teenagers could go along and mow down big men armed with spears. The casualty rate has increased because of all the firearms. Moreover, with so many tribesmen equipped with the guns, the police and army no longer had a firepower advantage over the rampaging tribes. In Plateau state, for example, soldiers sent to guard villages often rush back to their military compounds at night, rather than risk a night time raid by teenagers with guns.


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