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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (November 10, 1998 - Post-Courier/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---The Papua New Guinea Defense Force has pinpointed certain "minority groups" as having spread rumors of an attempted military coup in the city, according to PNG Defense acting Chief of Staff Colonel Ben Norrie, the Post-Courier reports.

"Our investigations since last Friday have discovered that the rumors are all baseless," Colonel Norrie said after several days of tension over the reports.

He said the Defense Force was told on Friday, by two Post-Courier reporters, of rumors that certain senior politicians and members of the force would be placed under house arrest and the Prime Minister, backed by the Defense Force, would be made President.

Colonel Norrie said internal investigations had revealed that certain minority groups in the force were collaborating with some influential people and organizations to spread these rumors.

He warned these groups that their identities were known and they would be picked up soon.

Colonel Norrie said as soon as they were picked up they would be disciplined by the code of military discipline.

He said that depending on the severity of the offense and whether it was a criminal matter or not, then it would be dealt with through the force's criminal justice system.

Colonel Norrie said it was unbecoming of members of the military to spread such rumors.

He said the internal investigation should be completed by this week or early next week.

"Our investigations are now being focused to identify military personnel who are involved in spreading these unnecessary rumors which are causing anxiety among the people of PNG, the national government, business houses, and members of the diplomatic corps," Colonel Norrie said.

"There is nothing for them to fear."

"We are intact. There is no split in the Defense Force and we are here to be loyal to the commander who is appointed by the legitimate government of the day."

Colonel Norrie said senior members of the Defense Department and the force met and pledged their support to the commander, the department secretary and the minister.

He said they had agreed to stay intact and work together.

Colonel Norrie said the senior members of the force were the backbone of the two organizations and that they would continue to ensure that the organization functioned and provided services required by the people of PNG.

He also assured the rank and file of the force that the department and force were intact.

"We will continue to strive in these trying times. Especially with the financial constraints, we will continue to try to provide shelter, food and allowances," Colonel Norrie said yesterday.

Title -- 1806 MILITARY: PNG Coup Rumor Arrests 'Soon' Date -- 10 November 1998 Byline -- None Origin -- Source -- Post-Courier (PNG), 10/11/98 Copyright - PC Status - Unabridged

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