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WMD Workshop Opens In Lusaka, Zambia - 2004-01-12

A five-day workshop on Weapons of Mass Destruction, or WMD, opened in the Zambian capital of Lusaka today. The workshop - for Zambian security and postal workers - was organized by the U-S State Department Anti-terrorism Program.

The workshop is intended to create awareness of WMD’s among officials who are expected to decide on the appropriate response to a threat of terror.

The 150 delegates to the workshop are drawn from the police, the army, intelligence security services and postal services.

US ambassador to Zambia, Martin Brennan, addressed the opening of the workshop.

"We will defeat terrorism. It will take time. It will take determination. It will take courage. But it will happen. But it will only happen, only happen if we work together in concert, in unison. And this training program is part and parcel of that effort."

The ambassador says the workshop has been brought to Zambia because the country is part of an international coalition against terrorism.

He says even if Zambia has not been a victim of terror attacks like those of September 11th, it’s necessary that the country gain knowledge in the subject.

But Permanent Secretary in the ministry of Home Affairs, Peter Mumba says the country has experienced the kind of terror that justifies training of local security officers.

Mr. Mumba recalls when he worked as a postal worker that Zambia was constantly attacked by forces of the apartheid South Africa and those of the minority government in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

"We used to receive letters pregnant with biological materials, parcels full of materials of destruction. However, since the political emancipation of these two countries, Zambia has enjoyed relative peace as regards terrorist attacks."

Mr. Mumba says several postal workers lost their lives as a result of those poisonous letters.

Zambia was targeted because it hosted liberation movements that had launched an armed struggle against minority rule in both South Africa and Southern Rhodesia.

But Mr. Mumba says Zambia is facing yet another enemy – the proliferation of light weapons.

He says the influx of refugees from countries that were at war - such as Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo - has led to the multiplication of light military weapons in the country. He says the weapons are used in armed robberies.