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MARINES SHUT DOWN MAJOR ARMS MARKET IN MOGADISHU AREA

SHARE MARINES SHUT DOWN MAJOR ARMS MARKET IN MOGADISHU AREA

The U.S. Marines shut down a major arms market in the northern section of the city Friday, confiscating weapons ranging from rifles to a small tank. It was the first such action by the U.S.-led military force in Somalia, which is stepping up its efforts to reduce the number of weapons in the city.

The action came a day after a gunbattle in which the Marines destroyed a stronghold of Gen. Mohammed Farah Aidid, leader of one of Mogadishu's two clan factions. But in Friday's operation, the only shot fired was to blow the lock off a storehouse door.Employing a new tactic, the Marines offered sacks of food as an incentive for people to turn in their guns. But many of the weapons were seized without compensation, often by breaking into locked storehouses.

A convoy of 450 Marines in light armored vehicles and amphibious assault vehicles, escorted by attack helicopters, crossed into the northern part of the city and moved into an area known as the Argentine Market, sweeping up weapons for sale.

"The object is to take all the weapons we could find," said Col. Michael W. Hagee.