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200 elite Austrian officers to get TASERs

The Associated Press

VIENNA, Austria -- About 200 elite Austrian police will be issued electric Taser stun guns next month, the Interior Ministry said Wednesday.

The weapons, which deliver powerful jolts of up to 50,000 volts, will be issued to members of Austria's elite Cobra and Wega police commando units, the ministry said. The weapons cost about euro1,300 (US$1,540) apiece.

Critics denounced the purchase, saying police run the risk of seriously injuring or killing suspects who have heart problems or are under the influence of narcotics by administering the strong jolts.

Austrian authorities have defended the move, insisting it will minimize deaths and serious injuries in the course of police operations and noting that Tasers have been used successfully for years in the United States.

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