SAMOA AND FIJI PUT ON BODY PARTS ALERT

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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (February 2, 1999 - PACNEWS/Samoa Post)---The Pago Pago-based South Pacific Islands Criminal Intelligence Network (SPICIN) has issued an alert to police authorities in Fiji and Samoa about an organization reportedly traveling through the region in search of human body parts.

The Samoa Post newspaper quotes SPICIN Director Michael Sala as saying the alert has been prompted by a story first published in the Auckland-based newspaper Samoana last month, and republished in the Samoan edition of the local daily, Samoa News.

The Samoana story was based on an interview with a Samoan woman in New Zealand who claimed her brother in Samoa was abducted by a group of people who wanted to take his body parts. The brother, according to the story, had escaped.

Sala has told the Samoa Post, the story cannot be treated as a hoax even if it is because it can happen and may happen. He says the matter cannot be taken lightly, especially with the lives of innocent children at stake.

The SPICIN alert says responses from police authorities in Samoa and Fiji will provide a basis for an informative message to concerned citizens, especially parents with young children who commute to and from school on foot, public buses or other means that could subject them to harm.

The alert comes a few days after Samoa's police department publicly denied any truth to the Samoana news report and urged parents not to believe the child kidnapping rumors rife in the territory, which have prompted countless calls to the police.

SPICIN and American Samoa's police department operate independently of each other. The heads of both departments are embroiled in a dispute over alleged abuse of power by the SPICIN director.

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