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Confiscation Of Guns Underway In Iran's Volatile Province

This picture taken on September 22, 2018 in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz shows injured soldiers lying on the ground at the scene of an attack on a military parade.

Police has captured "nearly three thousand unauthorized weapons" in Dezful, in Southwestern Iran in the volatile province of Khuzestan, Iranian media reported on Monday December 24.

Meanwhile, Khuzestan Police Chief Heydar Abbaszadeh told reporters that a "general disarming" project is under way in the area, warning that "those who own and use unauthorized weapons will be strictly dealt with."

Abbaszadeh said that 2,325 individuals have been arrested in Khuzestan during the past nine months, adding that police has seized 494 combat weapons as well as 2,236 rifles during the same period.

The province is home to a major part of Iran's oil industry including the Abadan Refinery, as well as the steel mill in Ahvaz and the sugar plant in Haft Tappeh where unpaid workers have been on strike and holding protest demonstrations nearly for a year. However, no shooting was reported during last year's labor unrest in Khuzestan.

The province is also known for its Arab-Persian ethnic divide which at times brought about disturbances. An ethnic Arab group claimed responsibility for last September's attack on a military parade in Ahvaz that claimed two dozen lives and left many more wounded.

Dezful's local governor Mohamad Heydari told reporters that recently there have been "cases of armed robbery and shooting" in the city, and officials have decided to launch a general weapons confiscation project.

However, he said because of the special situation in Dezful, complete disarming will take some time. Nevertheless, he did not elaborate on what makes the city's situation "special."

Yet, the local governor warned "those who disturb order in the city" will be stopped by the authorities from "committing outrageous criminal acts."

The governor asked the police to plan and act in a way that criminals "wouldn't even think of disturbing public's peace." However, he said "Violent crimes are committed by criminals who have a long record of mischief," but said there are not too many criminals around.

The local governor further called on the police to confront armed robbery while the disarming project is under way.

Iranian media recently reported cases of tribal disputes that led to shootouts, as well as armed robberies by "bandits." Recently a local police chief in Dezful was shot dead during a clash with bandits, reports said.

In another developments, gunmen attacked "a cultural center" associated with Khuzestan's representative to the Assembly of Experts, his Telegram channel reported.

Importing, buying, selling and repairing weapons are not allowed in Iran except for authorized weapons used for hunting. Possession of unauthorized hunting or combat weapons entail between three months to ten years prison terms as well as cash fines up to 80 million rials (roughly $800).