NEW DELHI, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- The Royal Nepalese Army blamed assault rifles supplied by India for reverses suffered against Maoist rebels in the landlocked Himalayan kingdom.
"RNA's criticism about sub-standard INSAS rifles has more to do with politics than anything else, keeping with Nepal's strategy to play on Indian fears that it could turn to third country like China or Pakistan for arms supplies," said The Times of India newspaper Thursday.
The 1.13 million-strong Indian army, the third-largest in the world, has around 500,000 INSAS rifles, which have a range of some 400 meters.
"We are using INSAS rifles in counter-insurgency operations in extreme terrains ranging from Jammu and Kashmir in the north to the Northeast region on a daily basis," said a senior army officer.
He said if India could use the weapons successfully in more intense operations, there was no reason why the RNA could not.
The Nepalese army has been fighting Maoists rebels who want to replace the constitutional monarchy with a communist state. India is the Nepalese army's sole supplier of arms, but Nepal recently threatened to buy weapons from a third country, hinting at China or Pakistan.
The Indian army said the RNA needed to be trained to handle the rifles better.
"The Indian army is ready to train RNA once again on the correct usage of INSAS rifles, like it did in 2004," a senior army officer said.