A newspaper report in Japan suggests North Korea has been selling weapons to Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), an Islamic extremist group in the Philippines.

Japan's biggest-selling newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, quotes Southeast Asian security sources saying North Korea sold 10,000 rifles and other weapons to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The group is based in the Philippines and allegedly has ties to al-Qaeda.

"Considering the close ties between al-Qaeda and the MILF, it cannot be ruled out that the money paid to North Korea for the arms could have been from al-Qaeda," the paper reported.

The report claims that grenades and other weapons also changed hands, but that plans to sell special underwater infiltration vehicles fell through.

The story has not been confirmed, although North Korea does have a track record of exporting military equipment.

with files from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation