BELGRADE – The head of a Serbian arms factory said Friday that several weapons used by Islamic militants during the bloody Paris attacks have been identified as produced by his company before the former Yugoslavia broke up in the 1990s.
Milojko Brzakovic, director of the Zastava factory in Kragujevac in central Serbia, said two days after the Nov. 13 attacks that killed 130 people, the Serbian Interior Ministry sent him the serial numbers of weapons found in Paris during and after the attacks.
“I believe there were seven or eight, all automatic rifles, the Kalashnikovs,” he said.
Before the bloody breakup of the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s, all former Yugoslav republics were supplied with weapons produced by Zastava, including a modified version of the Soviet AK-47 machine gun, or the Kalashnikov.
Brzakovic said the weapons could have been resold by all sides after the country broke up.
“The guns were distributed to the military stations in Slovenia, Bosnia and Macedonia for the Yugoslav Peoples’ Army needs,” Brzakovic said in a telephone interview. He said that now in Serbia — one of the former six Yugoslav republics — “not a single item can be delivered without the consent of the Serbian state.”
Since the Balkan wars ended, an illicit arms trade has flourished, with weapons being sold on most continents.
Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Friday that Serbia has launched investigations to check whether any weapons from the region are still being smuggled.
Only days before the Paris attacks, Serbia’s police said they broke up a major arms trafficking ring that intended to send weapons to France. Four people were arrested.