Subject: Interfet chiefs red faced after weapons amnesty flop

Military chiefs red faced after weapons amnesty flop

DILI, East Timor, Oct 20 (AFP) - Military chiefs were left red-faced here Wednesday after a much-hyped arms amnesty in the city passed without a single weapon being handed in.

"There have not been a lot of weapons handed in, in fact no weapons have been handed in," said Brigadier Martin Dunne, head of the Dili command with the International Force for East Timor (Interfet).

"It's not worked today and we'll give people another opportunity in a few weeks time."

Dunne said the amnesty had been well publicized around Dili and put the poor response down to people not being happy at letting go of their last means of protection.

"Alternatively there simply aren't a lot of weapons left," he said.

He suggested that many guns, knives and grenades had been taken to West Timor either by those fleeing the militia or by the militia themselves.

"If there aren't many weapons out there, I suspect that those people who have them have gone West and that's where most of the weapons are now."

He put a brave face on an operation that involved 30 soldiers and took four hours.

"I'm not disappointed, it's part of the ongoing process," he said. "I personally didn't think we'd have much better than the response we had."

Some sort of inducement might be offered in any future amnesty, such as a nominal fee, he added.

The amnesty ran from 11:00 a.m to 3:00 p.m Wednesday at four sites across Dili.

Interfet has vowed to progressively disarm and reconcile East Timorese.


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