GUADALCANAL PREMIER ALEBUA WOUNDED IN SOLOMON ISLANDS SHOOTING

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (June 1, 2001 – Radio Australia)---An unidentified gunman has wounded the Premier of the Guadalcanal Province, Ezekiel Alebua, in what may have been an assassination attempt.

Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney reports that the Premier, who has been a major political player in the country's Guadalcanal-Malaita ethnic conflict, has been admitted to the hospital but his condition is not serious.

"A man fired a shotgun at Ezekiel Alebua and a relative as they were about to get into Mr. Alebua's car at Kakabona on the western outskirts of Honiara this morning.

"Mr. Alebua suffered pellet wounds to the face, chest and forearm.

"Medical staff at the main hospital in Honiara have removed the pellets and a reporter from the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation who visited the hospital this afternoon said Mr. Alebua was joking with the nurses.

"The Solomon Islands Acting Police Commissioner, Wilfred Akau, said in a statement that somebody disgruntled about the distribution of compensation money provided to the Guadalcanal Provincial Government may have been responsible for the attack.

"Commission Akau said, ‘I was in the Kakabona area earlier this week. It was on the front line during the worst of the ethnic war between the rival ethnic militias from Malaita and Guadalcanal and most homes in the area have been destroyed by one side or the other.’

"Sean Dorney, Radio Australia."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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