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Nigeria police to get arms boost

 

Nigeria's police are planning to buy 80,000 new firearms ahead of elections due in April next year.

 

Police spokesman Haz Iwendi told the BBC that the guns were needed to arm 50,000 new police officers. He said the arms, including 70,000 assault rifles, were needed to confront armed criminals. Elections in 2003 were marred by several assassinations and three high-profile politicians have been murdered this year. Since the end of military rule in 1999, thousands of people have been killed in ethnic and religious violence.

 

'Bold step'

 

"The federal government decided the police need to be further equipped to face the challenges of electioneering - before, during and after the election," Mr Iwendi told the BBC's Network Africa programme. He said it was a "bold step" but said people should not be worried about police intimidation and obsolete arms would be destroyed.

 

Mr Iwendi said the new arms that were being ordered were:

 

* 40,000 AK47 rifles

* 30,000 K2 rifles

* 10,000 pistol Berettas.

 

"We need the equipment to match the ferocity of the criminals," he said.

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