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A 13-year-old schoolgirl has been arrested by armed police - after they discovered a sub-machine gun in her wardrobe.
The teenager was taken into custody yesterday afternoon after the M16-style rifle - capable of firing up to 900 rounds-per-minute - was seized at a flat in Croydon, South London.
Around 15 officers carrying sub-machine guns, hydraulic battering rams and combat shields raced to the address after hearing reports of the weapon on the estate.
They forced the door open and stormed into the flat shouting: 'Armed police, get on the ground.'
After they secured the flat, Sergeant Darin Birmingham and his team searched the rooms, uncovering the weapon wrapped in clothes under a wardrobe.
Sgt Birmingham said: 'We received information that the young man living here, who is a known gang member, had access to firearms.
'We pieced together the information we had and decided to act immediately in case the firearm was used.
'The people of Croydon need to know that if we get this information we will act as swiftly as we can to take these guns off the streets.
'If you mess around with weapons we will be at your front door and you will come face to face with an armed response unit.
'We will not tolerate the use of weapons in this borough.'
A police spokesman said: 'A girl - aged 13 - was arrested for possession of a firearm and taken to a South London police station.
'She has been bailed to return. Further arrests are anticipated.'
The offence of possession carries a mandatory minimum jail term of five years for adults or three years for juveniles.
A police source said: 'This a very serious piece of equipment even for someone trained in the use of firearms.
'For a 13-year-old girl to have it in her wardrobe is a cause of very serious concern.'
The estate was built in the early 1960s and comprises over 900 properties which consist of houses and flats.
Elaine Collins, the former residents' association chairman, said: 'Nothing shocks me anymore. Croydon has got a terrible reputation for guns and knives.
'But this is a relatively quiet estate so I'm surprised it was here.
'I got a phone call yesterday when it happened by someone who saw it all going on.
'They just said there was a lot of armed police around.
Resident Joyce Birchington, 48, said she was horrified that a girl just into her teens had access to such a deadly weapon.
The flower shop worker said: 'It's incredible really. These are the type of guns used by the Army, not 13-year-old girls.
'It's just a relief that the police got to it before it could be used. It beggars belief the amount of damage a gun like that could do in the wrong hands.'
Officers from the Operation Aries squad in Croydon, which targets criminal gangs, handled the operation.
Roads were cordoned off and people told to stay in their houses as the heavily armed officers made their way to the building.
The rifle, used by the US army in Vietnam and still used today as its primary rifle, can fire between 750-900 rounds-per-minute.
It was famously used in the movie Platoon and was used by police officers in Rambo First Blood and by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator.