May 2, 2011 ASDNews - by Sami Zubeiri – AFP
FREETOWN - China's ambassador to Sierre Leone on Monday presented AK47 rifles, rocket launchers, anti-aircraft guns and mortars to Sierra Leone's army to boost its defence capabilities. A six-man Chinese team had already trained a number of Sierra Leone military personnel in the use of the weapons, ambassador Kuang Weilin said at a handover ceremony. "China will continue to enhance the defence capability of the Sierra Leone military," he said. Foreign Minister Joseph Dauda said that eleven Sierra Leone military officers are currently being trained in China. Sierra Leone's Defence Minister Paolo Conteh added: "the value of the military equipment is some 25 million chinese yuan (2.5 million euro, $4 million). This is part of the agenda to reform the military in Sierra Leone to make it a force capable of performing its mission and tasks." China's contribution to the Sierra Leone military started in 1987 with two offshore patrol boats which later formed the nucleus of the Sierra Leone Navy to combat piracy, poaching and smuggling.