CHARGE MINING COMPANY SECURITY PERSONNEL MISTREAT SOLOMON ISLANDERS

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (June 21, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---Security personnel employed by Ross Mining Co. at Gold Ridge in central Guadalcanal are reportedly mistreating residents within the lease area.

A Tinmiti villager, Labu Olovi, said that security officers recently entered his home without a valid search warrant from the police and confiscated some of his gardening tools and cash, the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Company reports.

Olovi says villagers from Tinmiti, Vharihaivati, and Totua who pan for gold along local streams are being harassed by the mine's security officers and chased away. Although the villages are within the mine's lease area, he said, gold panning is a key source of income for the villagers and they are not moving.

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