JUBA - The government in civil war-torn South Sudan has taken delivery of new Chinese arms including anti-tank missiles, grenade launchers and assault rifles, the country's defence minister has confirmed.
The minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk, said the deal with China North Industries Corp (Norinco) was concluded in 2012, before the outbreak of fighting in December last year between rival troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and former vice president Riek Machar.
He confirmed a report by the Bloomberg news agency that the delivery, valued at $14.5 million, included 100 anti-tank missiles, 1,200 rockets, 9,000 assault rifles and hundreds of grenade launchers.
"The order was made since 2012 as a step towards professionalising our army," the minister told AFP.
"An army must be equipped so that it is able to deter anybody that will try to undermine the constitution and the territory of the nation. Any army in the world has the right to arm itself," he added.
South Sudan is the world's youngest nation, born of decades-long independence war with Khartoum. Its descent into civil war has been marked by widespread atrocities by both sides, and aid agencies say the country is now on the brink of a man-made famine.
War-torn South Sudan gets Chinese weapons delivery