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The designer of the AK-47 assault rifle dies, aged 94

The man who designed the AK-47 assault rifle is reported to have died. Mikhail Kalashnikov, was regarded as a hero in his native Russia.

Kalashnikov passed away at the age of 94 in hospital in his hometown of Izhevsk, near the Ural mountains, on Monday, Russian media reported.

Kalashnikov designed the AK-47, which is short for "Avtomat Kalashnikov" and 1947, the year it went into production.

At least

75 million AK-47s are reported to have been produced since then,

and the automatic rifle is credited with having killed more people than any other firearm. It is still being manufactured in the Urals region and has also been produced under license in around 30 other countries.

Several years prior to his death, Kalashnikov said he felt no guilt over the bloodshed caused by the rifle he designed.

"I sleep well. It's the politicians who are to blame for failing to come to an agreement and resorting to violence," he said in a 2007 interview timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the introduction of the AK-47.

The Russian weapon has been popular with soldiers but also guerillas and terrorists, due to its simplicity, accuracy and ruggedness, which allow it to continue to perform better in wet or sandy conditions than its American rival, the M-16, which has a more of a tendency to jam.

"During the Vietnam war, American soldiers would throw away their M-16s to grab AK-47s and bullets for it from dead Vietnamese soldiers," Kalashnikov said in 2007.

pfd/ph (AP, dpa, Reuters)

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