Belgium melts down over 22,000 firearms into recycled steel

BRUSSELS, April 30 (Reuters) - Belgian authorities this week destroyed more than 22,000 guns collected by police, melting them down into some 60 tonnes of recycled steel.

About half of the firearms were collected from across the country, principally handed in by owners, some of whom had inherited but not wanted to keep them, Carina van Cauter, the governor of East Flanders province, said in a statement.

The other half were outdated police weapons.

"The result is impressive: 22,457 firearms have disappeared from our society," Van Cauter said. "It is obviously positive for the security of our citizens that these weapons are no longer in use."

It was the third time Belgian security forces cooperated with steel giant ArcelorMittal (MT.LU) to destroy firearms, transporting them to a plant in Ghent in a covert operation taking three days.

Reporting by Clement Rossignol Writing by Sabine Siebold Editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Mark Heinrich

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