SOLOMON ISLANDS CHIEF LAVANA BLAMES KEKE FOLLOWERS FOR GROWING VIOLENCE

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (September 9, 2002 - SIBC/PINA Nius Online)---A Guadalcanal chief has blamed followers of rebel Solomon Islands leader Harold Keke for a recent outbreak of violence on Guadalcanal.

Chief Kili Lavana, of Gold Ridge, said young militants who follow Mr. Keke are going around harassing people and causing great concern and fear.

Chief Lavana said the people of Gold Ridge do not feel safe to go about their daily activities because of the dangers of having armed men around them.

The recent shooting incident on the Guadalcanal Plains in which three children and a woman were killed and 11 others wounded is evidence of his concern.

Mr. Keke and his Guadalcanal Liberation Front followers did not join the peace agreement ending more than two years of ethnic conflict. The conflict was sparked by Guadalcanal militants taking action against increasing settlement on Guadalcanal by people from the neighboring province of Malaita.

Mr. Keke and his followers have their stronghold on the rugged and little developed Weather Coast of Guadalcanal.

They have been responsible for such incidents as the massacre of 10 Malaitans who tried to capture Mr. Keke to the assassination of government minister Father Augustine Geve.

Many young men with unfamiliar faces have been going around harassing people, mostly women and children, Chief Lavana said.

He said they continue to influence other young people from the Guadalcanal Plains and encourage them to join forces with them.

The youths block roads and threaten people coming into Honiara or returning home by demanding money and other goods from them, he said.

Those who refuse to follow their orders are often harassed, assaulted, beaten or stripped of their belongings.

Chief Lavana said Guadalcanal people have suffered enough and should now be left alone to live in peace.

Police have been unable to go into the Weather Coast area. There have been suggestions that Australian and New Zealand logistical support is needed for any successful operation to take place to capture Mr. Keke and his followers.

Police Minister Augustine Taneko earlier called on Mr. Keke to surrender and allow the law to take its course.

He said Mr. Keke knows he's a criminal and he has made the whole of the Solomon Islands, more especially the peace loving people of Guadalcanal, to suffer.

For additional reports from the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.

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

 

SOLOMON ISLANDS POLICE RESTORING ORDER

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (September 10, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Solomon Islands police are attempting to restore order today after a series of violent incidents over the past three days.

A coastal community on the island of Malaita has come under attack, after the disappearance at sea of eight men last week.

Radio Australia Pacific correspondent James Panichi reports.

"Three men were injured in the attacks, which began in a market in the capital, Honiara, on Saturday.

"Yesterday, the violence spread to Malaita, when an estimated 50 men descended on the provincial capital, Auki, from the island's North.

"A shop owned by people from the coastal community of Langa Langa was looted before police were able to disperse the crowd.

"Authorities have blamed the violence on rumors that people from Langa Langa were responsible for last week's disappearance of eight Malaitan men off the coast of Guadalcanal.

"Police say the rumor is without foundation, and has urged the people to remain calm.

"All those involved in the violence are originally from Malaita, and the incidents are not believed to be ethnically motivated.

"James Panichi, 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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