JUBA, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- South Sudanese army (SPLA) said on Thursday that it seized more than 1,200 different types of weapons from civilians, after search operations lasting more than two weeks in the capital of Juba, its spokesman said.
The Acting SPLA spokesman, Colonel Santo Domic Chol, told journalists in Juba that the captured weapons were found to belong to various units of the security services and top officials.
"So far more than 1,200 pieces of different weapons and assorted equipment have been apprehended in Juba. However, after screening, most of the weapons belong to units of various organized forces and some were licensed to some citizens of high status like MPs, business members and the retired senior officers and politicians," he said in a statement issued in Juba.
He disclosed that 400 weapons were found unauthorized and are being kept in the armory.
War-torn South Sudan was listed by the UN as one of the countries with high proliferation of small arms among its civil population which has further fueled the ongoing conflict in the country.
The now more than three years of conflict has been characterized by rapes, abductions, cattle raids and killings driven at times by local grievances at community level.
"Similar operations are taking place in all the states. But emphasis has been focused on Juba as the capital City that has experienced many insecurity incidences during big celebrations," he said.
He also disclosed that nine people were arrested for operating a car theft ring, and 20 other people for masquerading as security officers.
Meanwhile, Chol also denied the SPLA-in opposition (SPLA-IO) rebels capturing last week the border town of Morobo, some 120 km South West of the capital.
"On Jan. 4, rebels raided our position in Morobo and we withdrew immediately. This gave them (SPLA-IO) an indication that the SPLA has no capacity to fight and therefore, SPLA position came under attack by rebels. The SPLA dislodged the attackers for self defense killing 41 rebel soldiers and captured 17 AKMs, 3 PKMs," he said.
South Sudan descended into civil war in December 2013 after President Salva Kiir accused his sacked deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup. Machar denied the accusation but then mobilized a rebel force.
A peace deal signed in August 2015 led to the formation of a transitional unity government in last April, but was devastated by the July 2016 fighting.
Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, over two million displaced and another 4.6 million left severely food insecure since December 2013. Enditem