Wednesday, July 26, 2006 Posted: 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
The first 150 of 2,000 armed fighters who fought alongside government troops in a brief 2002-03 civil war against rebels who seized the West African state's northern half turned over machineguns and cannon to U.N. troops who enforce a ceasefire.
It was the first formal mass disarmament since the war. Last year the same militias symbolically handed over a single gun, but failed to follow through with disarmament as the peace process got bogged down in political wrangling.
"It has started. They brought arms in a pickup truck and gave them to the U.N.," said an official from the reconciliation government's disarmament program, who watched the handover in Guiglo, a militia stronghold town near the Liberian border.