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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 6) - Eyewitnesses say they a small jet of the type used by business executives land at Aropa airfield on Sunday.

A source in Bougainville said last night that Noah Musingku, a fugitive from PNG police, and several friends headed for Panguna, home of the huge copper mine abandoned after the rebel uprising 15 years ago.

Musingku, who is wanted by PNG authorities for stealing millions of kina from investors in a fast money scheme called U-Vistract, and Bougainville rebel leader Francis Ona, are holed up in Panguna in a no-go zone, the source said.

The source also said he was told that the plane came from Australia, and was to land in Buka, but diverted to Aropa.

"It flew to Tokua after dropping Musingku and a foreigner called Reid. I believe the plane is now impounded at the Tokua Airport," the source said. "We don’t know why they came, but the provincial government is very upset. Both Kabui (BPC president Joseph Kabui) and Momis (Governor John Momis) have issued a joint statement on local radio condemning this action by Musingku," the source said.

The source added that Musingku’s foreign friend was yesterday ordered out of Bougainville, and was escorted to the Buka Airport by police to be put on a flight to Port Moresby.

Minister for Inter-Government Relations Sir Peter Barter said yesterday the Government was investigating "reports of a mysterious, unauthorized landing by an aircraft at Aropa."

Sir Peter said in a statement: "As Aropa airport is currently not open for use, we are concerned at the safety implications. We are also concerned to know why anyone would do something so stupid and risk landing an aircraft at an airport, which has been decommissioned for some time."

Eyewitnesses say they saw some foreigners get off the plane, and head off inland towards Panguna.

"In these circumstances, it seems legitimate for the Government, authorities in Bougainville and people in the areas to ask what they intended to do there," Barter said.

October 7, 2004

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