PNG GOVERNMENT BLAMED FOR POOR SECURITY

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (Radio Australia, Dec. 20) - The West Sepik Provincial Administrator in Papua New Guinea blames the government’s failure to improve security along the Indonesian border for increasing clashes there between Papuan separatists and the Indonesian military.

Joe Sungi says the PNG National government has ignored his requests for more resources to improve border security, which he says is inadequate and weak.

Sungi’s comments come after a shootout on Monday between Indonesian soldiers and a Free Papua or OPM faction lead by Mathias Wenda, who, according to some media reports, has declared war on Indonesia and is hiding in PNG.

Sungi says an attempt by 30 Papuans from Wenda’s group to ambush Indonesian soldiers on Monday, backfired and left six people injured.

He says Papua New Guineans living near the border are afraid to leave their homes for fear of being mistaken for OPM rebels by the Indonesian military.

According to Sungi, his province desperately needs funds and more manpower to protect Papua New Guineans from a possible all out clash between OPM rebels and Indonesian soldiers.

"We are not seeing national government being really serious on how to man this border, the resources are not there. They need to communicate along the border. We had a radio network which is no longer working effectively. And to have appropriate government officers placed in locations along the border stations, and the other thing is the general breakdown of our services."

December 20, 2002

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

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