PAPUA NEW GUINEA TEAM TO INVESTIGATE GIZO KILLINGS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 12, 2001 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Papua New Guinea's Department of Foreign Affairs has given the go-ahead for a joint investigation into November's killing of two Solomon Islanders and two Bougainvilleans at Gizo, Solomon Islands.

The investigation will be headed by the North Bougainville Peace Liaison Committee, and will include representatives from Foreign Affairs and the police.

Bougainville has been pushing for the investigation since the Solomons Islands government lodged a diplomatic protest with Papua New Guinea. It followed a shooting in Gizo, allegedly between members of the Guadalcanal Revolution Army and a Central Bougainville faction of the BRA.

The Bougainvilleans killed in that shooting are believed to have been members of the BRA from South Bougainville who had teamed up with the Guadalcanal militants during the recent ethnic conflict in the Solomons Islands.

An administration source in Buka said the investigation team was expected to leave Buka for Gizo during the weekend. A primary objective is to try to "stabilize" relations with the Solomons and discuss compensation, as well as repatriation of Bougainvilleans now living in that country.

"To a large extent, that stabilization has already happened. That happened during the weapons disposal talks in Townsville (Australia)," the source said.

BRA commanders from the north and south signed a joint declaration expressing their support for weapons disposal. They pledged to work towards the repatriation of BRA members in the Solomon Islands back to their villages.

Those married in the Solomons will be advised to return their weapons to Bougainville.

On compensation, it has been suggested that the Bougainville administration meet a substantial part of the package. But the source said this was still open to negotiation.

In Buka last week, North Bougainville ex-combatants met with Bougainville Peoples Congress representatives to discuss weapons disposal.

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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