ANGRY SAMOAN VILLAGERS FIRE AT POLICE

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APIA, Samoa (June 22, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---Angry villagers in Samoa have fired on police and slaughtered or stolen hundreds of government cattle in an apparent stand off over land rights.

The incidents have taken place at the neighboring villages of Satupuala and Mulifanua, 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of the capital, Apia.

Prime Minister Tofilau Eti Alesana and Commissioner of Police Asi Blakelock met recently with chiefs from the two villages to try and calm the situation, but official talks have resolved nothing.

Reports indicate over 500 head of cattle on the disputed 1,000 hectare site run by the Western Samoa Land Trusts and Estate Corp. have been stolen or slaughtered by villagers.

The home of the corporation manager and several copra dryers have been burned, and a government official shot at.

The dispute arises over large tracts of land given by the villages to help the allied forces build an airstrip in World War II. Since then successive governments have refused to return the land to the villagers or acknolwdge rightful ownership.

Commissioner Blakelock says investigations are underway and has asked arms dealers not to sell ammunition to buyers unless gun licenses are produced.

Villagers have threatened to burn down the police station at Faleolo International Airport next.

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