The South Sudan army (SPLA) has recovered about 30,000 unauthorised weapons in the semi-autonomous region but tens of thousands more are still in the hands of civilians, said the SPLA.
Many of the weapons were left over from Sudan’s two-decade long civil war, which ended with a peace accord in 2005. Analysts say the abundance of guns could spur violence around a referendum on independence next January, reports Reuters.
“Of the 30,000 about half were voluntarily surrendered from the population, others were seized after tribal conflicts and cattle raids,” SPLA spokesman Malaak Ayuen Ajok said.
“Tens of thousands of weapons are still at large. There are also many types of machineguns.”
Conflicts among tribes in the south, often fought over cattle and ethnic rivalries, have intensified with the availability of weapons since the brokered peace. Aid groups say at least 2,500 people have been killed in tribal violence since the beginning of last year.
Ajok said unauthorised weapons continue to stream into south Sudan, particularly from the north, and the army should also slow the influx.
Most political analysts believe southerners will vote for independence on January 9 after fighting the north on and off since 1955 over issues including oil, religion, ethnicity and ideology.