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By James Apa Gumuno

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 2) – Residents of the YMCA settlement in Mt Hagen were horrified when 11 armed men rampaged through their homes, destroying some of them and taking properties at will on New Year’s day.

Residents confirmed that eight houses were broken into and properties stolen while a mother lost a front tooth when she was punched by one of the criminals.

The criminals threatened to slit the throats of the children with bush knives, one of the mothers who was attacked said.

According to Jacob Walega, who lives at the YMCA settlement, the 11 men were armed with bush knives and guns and had their bodies painted to shield their identity.

Mr Walega said they were attacked several hours after midnight after the residents had come out to beat drums and build bonfires to welcome the New Year.

"We went back to sleep after the celebrations and were taken by surprise by the armed criminals," he said.

He said the armed men went from house to house smashing down doors, ripping open roofing sheets, and taking properties they could lay their hands on.

He said in one house, they asked a mother to go out into the dark, and when she refused, they threatened to slit the throats of her little children.

"She was horrified. Luckily, they did not do anything to her or the children," he said.

Mr Walega said Mrs Sandra Mathew lost one of her front teeth and suffered a swollen face when she was punched after calling out for help. 

January 2, 2004

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