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Australia gun and explosives amnesty nets large cache

New South Wales Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Hoffman with a selection of weapons previously seized from criminals. Nearly 26,000 guns have been surrendered under an amnesty © AFP/File / Peter PARKS

SYDNEY, Sep 8 – A battery of explosives, gunpowder and detonators have been handed to police under an amnesty in Australia, along with 26,000 firearms as authorities work to remove illicit weapons from the streets.

An amnesty was introduced by New South Wales state in March, allowing people to turn over any commercial explosives with no questions asked to stop them falling into the hands of criminals and homegrown jihadis.

With one week left, counter-terrorism police said the response had been encouraging.

“More than five months into the amnesty and there has been a wide variety of explosives surrendered, but we’re sure there’s more out there,” said Mick Willing, head of the NSW counter terrorism and special tactics command.

Among the cache is more than 146 kilograms (321 pounds) of explosives, over 20 kilograms of gunpowder and thousands of detonators and safety fuses.

A separate national firearms amnesty — the first in 20 years — has also proved a success, with 25,999 guns surrendered since it got underway in June.

“This is a great result, and shows Australians are serious about protecting themselves, their families, and their communities,” said Justice Minister Michael Keenan.

“As we know, just one firearm in the wrong hands can be deadly.”

Among the more unusual items handed in was a circa 1856 Beaumont Adams revolver, a World War I-era Lee Enfield rifle and two WWII US M1 carbines.

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The gun amnesty runs for another three weeks.

The government believes there are as many as 260,000 illicit weapons on the streets, and with the threat of extremist attacks and a spate of recent gangland shootings, it wants to minimise the danger.

Australian officials have grown increasingly concerned over the threat of extremist attacks and have prevented 13 on home soil since September 2014.

But several have taken place in recent years, including a Sydney cafe siege in 2014 which saw two hostages killed.


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