- A grenade attack at a weekend wedding reception in Burundi has raised more fears that there are still a lot more small arms in illegal hands.
The attack, which is believed to have been a result of a land dispute, has left more than 15 people dead with dozens others injured.
The groom's half-brother, who is suspected of carrying out the attack, was detained in the Rutegama hill region of Gitega province, Police spokesperson Pierre Ntarabaganyi reported.
"The grenade was launched into a crowd of people at the wedding ceremony," said police spokesman said.
However, the groom and his wife survived, while some of the injured had died later in hospital, reports indicated.
Incidents like this are said to have become common, mainly due to proliferation of illegal weapons acquired by civilians during the civil war that broke out in 1993 and left 300,000 people dead. A recent incident happened in July where at least two people died and 40 wounded also at a family gathering.
According to a study by Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, more than 100,000 weapons are still held illegally in Burundi, which has caused several attacks amongst civilians in recent years.
Burundi is still in process of a disarmament exercise, after more than a decade of ethnic violence, a policy, which has been largely termed a failure, with more weapons having not been handed over to authorities.
The illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons remains one of the most pressing security challenges in the Great lakes region and East Africa, Burundi included, with regional members having a set deadline for December this year, to brand all light and small firearms as a way of controlling soaring illegal firearms.
The ultimatum was agreed to by 12-member states as part of recommendation under Article Seven of 2000 Nairobi Declaration.
According to a recent report by Regional Center for Small Arms, Uganda has destroyed highest number of illegal weapons in the Great Lakes and Horn Africa regions with 60,000, followed by Kenya with 20,000 between 2005 and 2007, while Djibouti and Burundi only managed to destroy 100 and 200 arms respectively in the same period.
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