WEST PAPUA ACTIVIST KILLED IN VANIMO

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VANIMO, Irian Jaya (April 26, 2000 – The National/Kabar Irian)---The peaceful border town of Vanimo is reeling from yet another serious crime within a week - this time the cold-blooded murder of a pro-independence West Papuan activist yesterday morning.

Hans Bomai, the self-styled leader of the separatist OPM rebels’ western command, was attacked with knives and hammers at a settlement near the town and died instantly from injuries to his head.

His brother, Lego Bomai, was also attacked but survived and was in serious but stable condition at the Vanimo General Hospital last night.

Police have detained eight suspects in relation to the killing.

Official sources said last night that the Bomais had traveled to Vanimo from their jungle hideout near Skotsio on the PNG-Indonesia border to make arrangements to travel to Jakarta for talks on self-rule for West Papua, formerly Irian Jaya.

The sources said the killing might be the result of an ongoing leadership struggle within the OPM hierarchy.

Police are believed to be on their way to Skotsio to meet another OPM leader, Mathias Wenda, whose men they believed had attacked the Bomais yesterday.

Only last Tuesday, peace was shattered in the West Sepik provincial capital when an armed gang attacked and raped an American tourist on the resort island of Narimo.

Yesterday, the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority condemned the attack, calling on the community, provincial authorities and police to bring the attackers to justice.

PNGTPA acting chief executive Gard Renson said in a statement that the attack was a cowardly act, carried out by senseless and selfish individuals who had no place in their community.

Vanimo police have arrested three men in relation to the attack.

"It is yet another example of how a few individuals can just drag down the many good years of hard work, tireless effort and money to promote and market PNG as a potentially major tourist destination," said Mr. Renson.

"It’s unfair on every other good and law-abiding Papua New Guinean who has a genuine desire to embrace tourism. The majority of Papua New Guineans are friendly, peaceful and hospitable and genuinely want to welcome visitors into their communities and homes."

Mr. Renson said Vanimo and West Sepik province had always been peaceful, quiet and carefree and the isolated incident had spoiled that image.

In terms of tourism development and growth, Vanimo was being looked at positively because of its strategic location and proximity to Indonesia and its potential as the gateway to Southeast Asia.

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

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