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Geeks spot French rifles in PNG coup attempt


FAMAS rifles surrendered by rebelsTHERE IS NOTHING QUITE LIKE a military coup to bring dusty rifles from the depths of secret armouries and into the light of day.

The attempted coup in support of one of the pretenders to the prime ministership of Papua New Guinea ended just days after is began.

The mutineers, about 30 soldiers led by a retired Colonel, symbolically handed in their weapons in surrender (they were subsequently pardoned and their weapons returned).

What is interesting is that some of the mutineers appeared to have been armed with French FAMAS rifles.

A reader emailed me a couple of theories of how the [PNG Defence Force] might have acquired these rifles ...

There are two possibilities. PNG forces use the M16A2 and FN FAL, so they probably got the FAMAS rifles from Vanuatu, a relatively nearby French colony that got 350 of them in 1994.

In 2006 {PNG and Vanuatu troops] did peacekeeping missions together and in the 1980's PNG forces fought against rebels there, so that might have been their illegal weapons connection and source.

The FAMAS F1 rifles, few in number and not very reliable, could have been put in storage and improperly secured.

Another possibility is they got them from the Indonesian special forces, which have bought the FAMAS but aren't known to use them.

There was suspicion that the coup had Indonesian support not only due to Indonesia having a history of interfering with PNG, but also because the retired colonel who led the coup had just come back from a six month embed with the Indonesian military.


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Leonard Roka

I agree with this comments that the poor PNGDF had being using the FAMAS since the 1990s. I first spotted one in mid 1994 in Arawa, Bougainville. But, there were not very many of them.

And in my home, there is a BRA man possessing one.

Lovely weapons to the eyes but jams continously if not cared for.

Jacinta Kopson

Justin - The FAMAS was the only rifle that the mutineers had access to, that is why they used them.

Justin Friend

They have never been widely used but the FAMAS has been around for a long time in the PNGDF.

The infamous missing small arms report of 2004 identified 11 FAMAS were unaccounted for, it didn't say how many there were to start with, it just said the PNGDF had FAMAS rifles and they had "lost track" of 11 of them.

There are quite a lot of public source documents that refer to the use and/or purchase of FAMAS by the PNGDF. I

It is still interesting that the majority of weapons handed in by the mutineers were FAMAS, a rifle hardly used in the PNGDF......

Jacinta Kopson

The FAMAS rifle was bought legitimately by the PNGDF in the 1990s however it was never used and was kept in storage at Murray Barracks.

It is common knowledge in the PNGDF that these weapons are in service with the PNGDF so please do not turn it into a conspiracy and do some investigation before you write articles or post them without proper knowledge.

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