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Intriguing Rifle On The Black-Market In The Pak-Afghan Region

Since the Emiraat-E-Islami Afghanistan (Dari: امارت اسلامی افغانستان – English: Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan or IEA for short), also known as the Taliban, retook control of Afghanistan from the US-backed government in Kabul, a massive number of arms, munition and vehicles were captured and/or surrendered to them by government and allied militant forces. All this occurred before and leading up to the capture of Kabul on 15th August 2021 by the IEA.

As of now, the small-arms we’ve seen come available in the ex-FATA region of Pakistan are the usual suspects of US origin; the M4A1 carbine, M16A2 & M16A4 rifles, M24 marksman’s rifles, M249 light-machine-guns and of course a healthier supply of 5.56×45mm ammunition, M855 ‘green-tip’, M855A1 and M196 ‘red-tip’ tracer. The rifles and carbines are a mix of FN and Colt manufacture with the M24 being Remington produced and the M249 of FN origin.

Although that is currently what’s available in decent quantity and at lower pricing than beforehand, a very rare oddball appeared in the mix and from its external condition it appears essentially unused or unissued. The firearm in question is a Canadian Diemaco produced AR15/M4 pattern carbine in a Mk18-esque format, built under license from Colt. Diemaco have been known as Colt Canada since 2005 which along with its low serial number suggests it has been in stores for a number of years – seemingly unissued. What makes this unique is the markings which confirm it is a British contract rifle with a surprisingly low UK-specific serial number of 0000485 ending in GB and the designation of L119A1.

Fig.1.1. Left face: L119A1 rifle (Source: Khyber Armoury research collection)

Fig.1.2. Right face: L119A1 rifle (Source: Khyber Armoury research collection)

Now, how did this end up for sale on the black-market in Afghanistan and then make its way over to Pakistan? Well, that’s not too difficult to ascertain as a lot of new and used arms were sold off by military persons or captured by the Taliban during the Afghan conflict of 2001-2021. As such, this particular carbine is likely UK supply to the Afghan military, probably to special forces units from the accessories fitted, which went unused and was then captured or sold off to the black-market as we mentioned before. After this, it would have been sold off to smugglers who decided to make the long and risky journey in taking them across the border to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region of Pakistan. Seeing as the Taliban are now cracking down on illicit exports of items from the country, we are unlikely to see as many interesting pieces coming into Pakistan from Afghanistan.

The war in Afghanistan raging since the late 1970s has thrown up many treasures, this is one of the rarer modern pieces to have turned up for sale in the Pak-Afghan tribal markets in Pakistan.