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As weapons amnesty period ends in Kosovo, UN warns of penalties for illegal use

As weapons amnesty period ends in Kosovo, UN warns of penalties for illegal use

The United Nations Mission in Kosovo announced today the end of the weapons amnesty period aimed at encouraging people to turn in illegal arms.

"From now on, anyone caught with an unauthorized weapon will be subject to fines and imprisonment," Susan Manuel, spokesperson for the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) said in Pristina. Persons found with unauthorized weapons could face prison sentences of up to 10 years.

Calling the weapons amnesty programme "a success," Roy Brown, spokesman for the international security force (KFOR), said the last day of the programme had seen a flurry of weapons being turned in to KFOR patrols and checkpoints. The total collected by KFOR during the programme amounted to nearly 400 rifles, 65 pistols, 75 support weapons, 21 anti-tank weapons, 16 rockets, over 200 hand grenades and anti-personnel mines and some 31,000 rounds of ammunition.

The regulation on illegal border crossing also went into effect today, Ms. Manuel said, with UNMIK and KFOR having designated 19 legal border and boundary crossing points with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania, Serbia and Montenegro. She noted that anyone found crossing at other locales would be subjected to a fine or a jail term.

"This regulation is not aimed at farmers whose fields or sheep normally cross the border," Ms. Manuel said, "but at extremists or criminals who are fuelling instability in and outside Kosovo."