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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Nov. 15) – Police in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville are powerless to arrest a group of Fiji nationals reportedly hired as mercenaries in the rebel-held south of the main island.

Reports from the provincial capital, Buka, say a fugitive Briton and Australian linked with the Mekamui rebels have now left the town to join their colleagues in the rebel zone.

According to Radio New Zealand International, police say fugitive businessman Noah Musingku, who is believed to have hired the eight Fijians, is also in the area around the Panguna mine.

Acting police commander Senior Inspector Paul Kamuai, says the Fiji mercenaries travelled through Port Moresby and Buka.

Kamuai says security forces have their hands tied.

"The Bougainville police service is not armed and these people are armed. That is the situation and it may not be possible for the Bougainville police to surround them," he said.

Meanwhile, Fiji's High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, said his Government was working with Papua New Guinea authorities to withdraw the Fijians who arrived on Bougainville on October 30 via the Solomon Islands, Brisbane and the Papua New Guinea capital, Port Moresby.

"Naturally Fiji is embarrassed and upset with their alleged activities," Ratu Inoke said.

"It has brought disrepute to all the good work done in the past by our Fijian missionaries and soldiers who served in Bougainville as peacekeepers."

Ratu Inoke said he assured Bougainville's President, Joseph Kabui, that the men were no longer members of the Fiji army and his Government was doing its best to contact them to urge them to leave Bougainville.

[PIR editor’s note: Bougainville is located in the northeastern region of Papua New Guinea.]

Melbourne's Herald Sun reports the list of the nine names has been sent to Fijian authorities.

November 16, 2005

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

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