Two Britons arrested with 30 guns in Afghanistan

An Afghan female police officer practices aiming with a Kalashnikov assault rifle The government says that all weapons should have valid serial numbers

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Two British nationals have been arrested in Afghanistan for carrying 30 unlicensed guns, police say.

The men were travelling with a local interpreter and driver on the Jalalabad road, east of Kabul.

They work for a private security company and were carrying AK-47 assault rifles - one of the most commonly used weapons in Afghanistan.

Thousands of private security guards operate in Afghanistan, including many foreigners.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has in the past accused them of undermining the security services and taking work from Afghan nationals.

The men were were arrested along with their driver and interpreter. Kabul police have called on their employers to explain why they were transporting the guns without proper documentation.

Kabul police chief Ayub Salangi told the BBC at least 15 of the AK-47s did not have serial numbers.

Local police and intelligence officials said that the weapons were purchased on the black market.

They say that all private security companies must buy their serial-numbered weapons through the interior ministry.

Consular officials from the British Embassy in Kabul are assisting the pair.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville in Kabul says that such cases, while hardly routine, have occurred in the past.

A British man was briefly detained in 2007 for having more 100 pistols.

In the same year an American bounty hunter, Jack Idema, was pardoned by President Hamid Karzai after a period in jail for running a private prison in Kabul and torturing Afghans.

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