ADDIS ABABA, March 11 (Xinhua) -- The Ethiopia National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on Wednesday disclosed it has arrested 24 individuals in a massive arms smuggling crackdown.
In a press statement, NISS said the 24 individuals are accused of trying to smuggle 18,000 pistols to Ethiopia through the Port of Djibouti.
"The 24 individuals which include two Sudanese nationals allegedly transported 18,000 pistols originally from Turkey. The suspects were planning to smuggle the firearms through landlocked Ethiopia's main sea outlet, the Port of Djibouti," it said.
"NISS is working with intelligence agencies in Sudan, Libya, Turkey, Djibouti and the U.S. to arrest suspects wanted in connection to the massive smuggling operation," said the NISS statement.
The two Sudanese nationals were arrested with the assistance of Sudan's intelligence agency, according to the statement.
Arms smuggling is relatively common in some parts of Ethiopia, with people using firearms as protection against blood feuds, criminals and as a personal trophy.
However, smuggled firearms have also been used by criminals to commit robbery and by various minor rebel groups to initiate armed struggle against the Ethiopian government.
The Ethiopian parliament has recently approved a legislation that puts heavy prison terms on arms dealers, in a bid to stem the rising trade in illegal weapons in the east African country.