Arms sent by US may be falling into Taliban hands: NYT

May 20th, 2009 - 8:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 20 (IANS) Arms and ordnance collected from dead insurgents near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan strongly suggests that US munitions have leaked from Afghan forces into Taliban hands, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

Of 30 rifle magazines recently taken from insurgents’ corpses, at least 17 contained cartridges, or rounds, identical to ammunition the US had provided to Afghan government forces, the influential daily said on the basis of an examination of ammunition markings and interviews with American officers and arms dealers.

The presence of this ammunition among the dead in the Korangal Valley, an area of often fierce fighting near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan, strongly suggests that munitions procured by the Pentagon have leaked from Afghan forces for use against American troops, it said.

The scope of that diversion remains unknown, and the 30 magazines represented a single sampling of fewer than 1,000 cartridges.

The type of ammunition in question, 7.62×39 millimetre, colloquially known as “7.62 short,” is one of the world’s most abundant classes of military small-arms cartridges, and can come from dozens of potential suppliers, the Times said.

It is used in Kalashnikov rifles and their knockoffs, and has been made in many countries, including Russia, China, Ukraine, North Korea, Cuba, India, Pakistan, the US, the former Warsaw Pact nations and several countries in Africa. Several countries have multiple factories, each associated with distinct markings.

Most of the Wolf and Czech ammunition in the Taliban magazines was in good condition and showed little weathering, denting, corrosion or soiling, suggesting it had been removed from packaging recently.

Given the number of potential sources, the probability that the Taliban and the Pentagon were sharing identical supply sources was small, the daily said.

Rather, the concentration of Taliban ammunition identical in markings and condition to that used by Afghan units indicated that the munitions had most likely slipped from state custody, the Times said citing James Bevan, a researcher specializing in ammunition for the Small Arms Survey, an independent research group in Geneva.

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