There is nothing quite like a military coup to bring dusty rifles from the depths of secret armories 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 with a couple of theories of how they 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, who got 350 of them in 1994. In 2006 they did peacekeeping missions together and in the 1980′s PNG forces fought against rebels there. So that must of 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. (Vanuatu military forces 3000 in number would have chosen to continue using their SLR/FN FALs donated to them by Australia.
Another possibility is they got them from the Indonesian special forces, who according to wiki, have bought the FAMAS before 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 6 month embed with the Indonesian military.