PNG SOLDIERS BRAWL, BURN HOUSES IN RAMPAGE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 13) – Some 20 families in Port Moresby are homeless and four civilians injured after soldiers rampaged through Hohola.

The soldiers used petrol bombs to burn down the homes and trade stores.

The incident followed a fight last Thursday when three soldiers bashed a man from Tari, Southern Highlands Province. In retaliation, the man gathered his relatives and hit one of the soldiers who had attacked him.

On Sunday, police confirmed the fight but would not comment further.

Eyewitness Paul Tibaya said the man involved in the fight with the soldiers was his relative but was not living with them at their Hohola premises.

Mr Tibaya said they did not know anything about the fight and were shocked when more than 60 soldiers from Murray Barracks started attacking them on Thursday night.

He said the soldiers were in uniform and fully armed when they attacked.

"They came into the yard while our families were asleep and started breaking the houses and hitting people," Mr Tibaya said. "We were shocked and started getting our children and belongings and throwing them over a corrugated fence in our neighbour’s yard in the first attack around 2am on Friday."

He said at 6am, another group of soldiers attacked and this time, they threw petrol bombs at the houses.

"We lost all our properties including our clothes, food and money in the fire set to the buildings. We just want to know why they attacked us when we were not involved in the fight," Mr Tibaya said.

He did not disclose how much property was lost in the fire but reports from EMTV news placed the damages at K2 million.

Meanwhile, the soldier from East Sepik Province who was badly injured by a mob of Tari men is nursing his wounds at home.

The soldier, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was having a few beers with his brother and his in-law near the Ted Diro Primary School on Thursday.

He said when they were drinking, a Tari man rudely walked over their beers.

The soldier said the same man came back four minutes later and did the same thing. When the victim tried to make way for him, the Tari man kicked him on the back of his head.

"I caught one of his legs and threw him on the ground and started hitting him and my colleagues helped. The man got up and ran for help to his relatives," he said.

The soldier told his brother and in-law to get into their car and go home before the man brought back his relatives.

"As soon as I said that my brother got into the car and his wife was about to hop in when the men came back with bush knives and axes," the soldier said.

He said they started shouting and followed the car, so his brother drove straight into the barracks. The soldier told his colleagues to escape while he followed his brother and in-law in case of trouble.

"One of the man held me and said I was one of them and started hitting me. They came in groups and other people tried to help me but they were threatened with bushknives and axes. They kicked and bashed me on the head and body until I was unconscious."

The soldier said he regained consciousness at the Hohola Police Station and was later taken to hospital.

"Whatever happened after that I do not know. I did not know houses and stores belonging to the Tari people got burnt down. I only knew about this on Friday morning after the incident," he said.

April 13, 2004

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

 

 

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