The Guns of Rwanda and the DRC


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Number 6
August 28, 2005, 02:16 PM
I just got back from my second trip to Rwanda and my first trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and I thought I would let you all know of some of the observations I made about the weaponry I saw.

Rwanda:
Mostly what I saw in Rwanda were AKs and FALs, and for the most part looked to be well taken care of. Most of the private security guards carried FALs, with about half of the ones I saw having folding butt stocks. All of the provincial police I saw carried AKs. I am pretty sure they were Chinese in origin since they did not have the slant brake and also had a fixed spike bayonet. The military too carried what looked like Chinese AKs with a few exceptions. I saw one military patrol on the border of Congo with a few PKs with them. I also saw a lone soldier carrying a Krinkov. There were a few AKs I saw with muzzle attachments that look like the grenade launchers that Yugo SKSs have, so I assume they were Yugo AKs, but I cannot be sure. There were a good number of those AKs around. The guard in front of the American ambassadorís house had some type of bullpup rifle, I could not get a very good look at it, but I think it was a Tavor. The only handguns I saw were carried by the airport police, and they were CZ75s. I did see one shotgun carried by a hotel security guard, the most I could tell was that it was a stainless pump action, maybe an 870, but there is no way for me to be sure.

Congo:
Crossing the border into the Democratic Republic of Congo was interesting to say the least. They were doing troop rotations so when I was there about 3000 troops going through the city, so I got a chance to look at a lot of their gear. All of the gear I saw in Congo was not very well kept up and usually consisted of a motley collection of weaponry. Most of the AKs I saw were rusted and had almost no finish. The vast majority of troops carried AKs. Underfolders seemed to be particularly popular. Like Rwanda, most of the AKs appeared to be of Chinese origin, but I saw a lot of underfolders that could have been of Russian or another origin. A few appeared to be the Yugo type like I mentioned above. A lot of the AKs that did not have a folding stock seemed to have the butt stock either sawn off or removed. I have no idea how they get any type of accuracy this way, but there were a lot of them like that. I did see what appeared to be an Egyptian Misr AK, and one AK-74 judging by the magazine and muzzle brake. There was one soldier sitting in back of a truck with an RPD that looked like it had seen years of service. Probably the most bizarre thing I saw in terms of the weaponry was two M16-A1s carried by two Congolese solders near the UN compound. I am sure they were M16s and they had zero finish left on them. All of the gear in Congo was used, abused, and not very well cared for.

Anyways, I just thought I would report to you all what I saw for anyone who is curious. Just take what I saw with a grain of salt, most of what I saw was while driving by, and even when I was standing still I did not want to stare, since I did want to make it back alive.

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Pawcatch
August 28, 2005, 11:38 PM
Thanks for the first hand info.It's always good to hear from someone who actually has been there.
Also,what about knife use?Did you see anybody using machetes or knives in public?And what kind were they?

Crosshair
August 29, 2005, 12:58 AM
I have a "Dumb American" question. How is the political situation in Rwanda? Is it a stable country now as compared to years ago?

Can'thavenuthingood
August 29, 2005, 01:27 AM
My niece is going to Rwanda with the church on a mission to do good, december I think. I'm not thrilled about it. She's married and a mother of six, the youngest just started school. Husband supports her decision to do this work.

I was contemplating asking about any exotic, as in non deer hunting, weapons training she might need to survive. Also if anyone has recent firsthand knowledge of what not to do while there.

Telling her to beware of TB, HIV, Leprosy etc. is worrisome enough.

Thanks Number 6 for the heads up on weapons.

Vick

homeka45
August 29, 2005, 03:47 AM
Thanks for the insight and observations, it must have been nice to get back home in one piece. BTW notice any crew served weapons in use there?

Number 6
August 29, 2005, 02:36 PM
Also,what about knife use?Did you see anybody using machetes or knives in public?

Yes, there are tons of machetes around. Machetes are agricultural tools there, so you will see many of them around the country since most of the country is involved in some form of agriculture. I did not see any pocket knives or other form of personal use knives, however.

How is the political situation in Rwanda? Is it a stable country now as compared to years ago?

Rwanda is pretty stable internally. President Kagame has worked very hard to mend the wounds that exist between the three tribes there. Externally, Rwanda has been a tad aggressive with its neighbor Congo, and invaded a few years ago. There is still a lot of tension on the border there.

My niece is going to Rwanda with the church on a mission to do good,

While my official job will eventually take me to that region again for research, I was there like you niece doing a mission trip with my church. It is a very safe country. The Rwandan people are extremely friendly and love Americans. I never once felt threatened or in fear while in Rwanda. I would take the usual precautions however, don't go out at night alone, use a money belt when traveling, and always be on guard for suspicious people. If you want anymore advice or some more pointers about the culture and the countries feel free to PM me, and I can give you a much more detailed breakdown of what your niece can expect, but in short Rwanda is a very safe country. Congo is a totally different story however. One thing to definitely avoid is tell her under no circumstances should she take pictures of any government officials or buildings, that will either get your camera confiscated or land you in Jail.

As for health problems, I will not lie, there are many. The best advice I can give would be to make sure she gets all of her vaccinations, take the malaria medications, and use a ton of purell(hand sanitizer). I have not gotten sick on either of my trips, so it is possible to avoid illness at least.

BTW notice any crew served weapons in use there?

Yes, the PKs would be classified as crew served I think, as would the RPD. In Congo, I saw one soldier with a vest filled to the brim with rifle fired mortars. The Rwandan military had RPG-7s when I saw them on the border of Congo, but they did not have any when I saw them patrolling Kigali.

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