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Nigerian military mop up arms in restive city
by Staff Writers
Kano, Nigeria (AFP) Nov 1, 2011

Nigerian soldiers began a house-to-house search Tuesday for arms in the city of Maiduguri wracked by deadly attacks by a radical Islamist sect in recent months, the army and residents said.

The operation followed the expiration of an October 31 deadline for residents to submit arms in their possession to the JTF, a special military unit deployed to end the violence blamed on the Boko Haram sect in the northeastern city.

"We have started a house-to-house search for weapons in the city in the second phase of ridding the city of arms and stopping attacks," Joint Task Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Hassan Mohammed told AFP.

"Henceforth anybody found harbouring arms in his home will be taken for a criminal and sanctioned appropriately," he warned.

He urged residents with licenced arms to surrender them for inventory, and promised to return them later.

Resident Musa Danbaba said soldiers with guns and detectors combed the Gomari area of the city.

"They conducted a thorough search on my house using metal detectors and flash lights, and they did the same for all houses in the neighbourhood," he said.

Mohammed said Maiduguri residents have continued to surrender guns and even home-made bombs to designated collection centres despite the expiration of the deadline on Monday.

People who were reluctant to surrender their arms for fear of arrest, turned them in when soldiers began the search to avoid the arms being found in their homes, he said.

"Our aim is to mop up arms in the hands of residents and the amnesty covers whoever turns in arms in his possession even if he is Boko Haram," Mohammed said.

Borno State of which Maiduguri is the capital, borders Chad, Niger and Cameroun, and the city has been the epicentre of almost daily gun and bomb attacks by suspected sect members in recent months.

The sect also claimed responsibility for the August 26 bombing of UN headquarters in the capital Abuja that killed at least 24 people.

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