The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) investigates to identify the supplier of AK-47 assault rifles to the New People’s Army (NPA) in Mindanao.

Reports indicate that NPA fighters in Northern and Southern Mindanao are now armed with AK-47 rifles. The high-powered assault rifles are being used against government forces in Mindanao. The conclusion came about following the military’s recovery of such high-powered rifles in encounters. Some of the recovered AK-47s are brand new and have defaced serial numbers. The military is coordinating with police in investigating and stopping the flow of high-powered firearms into rebel hands. The military has no concrete proof on where the AK-47s came from and on how many rifles are in the hands of the rebels.

Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 6.09.36 PM Screen Shot 2013-07-17 at 6.08.22 PM The AK-47 or Kalashnikov are high-powered assault rifles first produced during the Cold War in the then Soviet Union. The assault rifles are well known for its extreme reliability in battlefield. The rifles have also simple firing mechanisms that can easily be learned. It can function with little or no maintenance in the most extreme environments and conditions. The AK-47 is the standard weapon for militaries and used by rebel and terrorist organizations around the world. It is believed that a total of 100 million AK-47 rifles and its variants were produced and mostly still in legal and illegal circulation at present.

Possible Source

SecurityMatters sources indicate that the rifles were purportedly transported by foreign shipping vessels transporting ore in Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur. Reportedly, many of the rifles are transported to rebels in Davao Region and Bukidnon province. Only three countries in the region have AK-47 variant rifles used as main assault rifles by security force – China, Vietnam, and Cambodia. NPA rebels also have connections with Communist rebels in India wherein NPA members provide training to Naxalite-Maoist Insurgents who target Indian security forces. Indian security forces also use a variant of AK-47 rifles. Several mining firms with private security guards prefer or tolerate the use of China-made AK-47 which are also attracting NPAs to conduct agaw-armas operations.

AK 47 Rifle Formation NPA armed with M60 NPA hut

Source: Captured NPA video

Proliferation of AK-47s

Despite the increase in number of AK-47s, reports indicate that the NPA is limiting their use because of problems in ammunition. The AK-47 fires a 7.62 round which is larger than the common M-16’s round with a caliber of 5.56. With such problems, rebels prefer the M-16 assault rifle variants. Such rifles and ammunition are easily available to rebels via the black market and captured weapons from government security forces. Because of the lack of ammunition, rebels might resort to selling such high-powered firearms. Such high-powered firearms can land in the hands of local warlords and criminal and terrorist groups in the area who can acquire proper ammunition. The high-powered rifles will certainly be used in illegal and criminal activities in the area. The proliferation of AK-47s in the region poses problems to security and peace and order as more government forces are killed in the field.