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Guns for toys a hit

NEW YORK (AFP) - A three-day exchange of guns for toys in New York, the brainchild of a teenage boy, has been a surprise success, with some 300 weapons surrendered to police, the New York Times said yesterday.

Fernando Mateo, 14, convinced his father, the owner of a Manhattan carpet store, to donate dollars 5,000 ( pounds 3,350) to Toys 'R' Us. Then anyone handing over a firearm to the police would get a dollars 100 gift voucher at the store.

The incentive was more successful than the police's gun-exchange programme.

By midday on Saturday, police had received 299 weapons 'and they're still coming in', a spokesman said of the special exchange that was to end at midnight.

Jose surrendered a semi-automatic handgun. 'I guess I probably still need it,' he said, 'but this thing is so good to just let go by.' His daughter wanted a doll's house, he said, but it was too expensive. 'With this money I'll be able to do it now.'