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No live weapons given to army guards

Members of Switzerland's non-professional army will no longer do guard duty with live weapons under legislation that comes into force on Tuesday.

This content was published on August 31, 2009 - 16:26

Instead soldiers guarding army properties and embassies will be handed pepper spray for self defence.

The guards will still carry weapons with loaded magazines but with no ammunition in the firing chamber. Commanders still have the right to order guard duty with guns ready to be fired based on the needs of a situation, such as a terrorist threat.

Use of loaded guns has been suspended temporarily since October in the wake of eight incidents when shots were fired accidentally.

The Association of Officers has welcomed the new policy, while the pacifist group Switzerland without an Army said the change came too late.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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