SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS TRIBES CREATING ILLEGAL ARMIES

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MENDI, Papua New Guinea (January 30, 2000 – Post-Courier)---Two warring clans in Mendi, Southern Highlands Province are allegedly creating illegal armies.

The clans are reportedly using former PNG Defense Force soldiers and policemen to conduct illegal military training, using high-powered weapons.

The clans are allegedly smuggling in high powered weapons and hiring them out to other people, the provincial administration, police and concerned leaders in the province told Police Minister Mathias Karani, during a visit to the province on Wednesday.

Mr. Karani was told that senior politicians of the province and prominent business figures were allegedly involved in the illegal activities.

Provincial Administrator Don Romanong told Mr. Karani at Mendi that the clans were training locals using former PNGDF soldiers.

Mr. Romanong claimed there were a large number of high-powered guns smuggled into the province.

The administrator's comments were confirmed by Komo Magarima MP Alfred Kaibe, provincial police commander Samson Mapi and other concerned leaders.

"The number of high powered weapons in the province is extremely high,'' Mr. Romanong said.

He wanted something urgent must done to remove the weapons from the people.

Mr. Mapi said police knew where the weapons are being stockpiled and who was keeping them.

"We actually know them, but we need the National Government's backing and direction to move in,'' Mr. Mapi said.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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