PNG GOVERNMENT DOWNPLAYS BORDER INCURSIONS

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (RNZI, Jan. 10) - The Papua New Guinea government is downplaying alleged border incursions by Indonesian soldiers going after Papuan separatist rebels.

The Defense Minister, Kappa Yarka says that reports of Indonesian troops crossing into PNG to chase after Free Papua or OPM rebels carried no credence and that there was no conflict between Jakarta and Port Moresby.

However, PNG Border officials were reportedly investigating claims that Indonesian troops had driven several kilometers into the PNG border town of Wutung last week.

Joe Sungi, the Administrator of PNG’s border province of Sandaun has criticized the government for downplaying security breaches from both sides of the border.

Sungi says the PNG government needs to take clashes between OPM rebels and Indonesian troops seriously and improve border security

"We have reported time after time it's time to pay special attention to the border. We seem to be talking to people in Moresby who don't understand what we are talking about. We are far behind in terms of logistics, just basically being present... like we can have the choppers in place to at least make runs and to have some policemen stationed along the border and our defense personnel patrolling along the border"

Sungi says that the Somare Government has taken a no tolerance stand against OPM rebels who allegedly launch attacks against Indonesian troops from PNG.

He says an ultimatum will be given to OPM rebels to leave PNG and go back to Indonesia within three weeks or face deportation.

January 10, 2003

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

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