LANDOWNERS AROUND LAE, PNG THREATEN SETTLERS

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By Philip Dowa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 22) – Traditional owners of the land in Papua New Guinea upon which Lae city was built had threatened to remove all Lae settlers by force after one of their leaders was attacked during the weekend.

[PIR editor’s note: Lae city is located north of the capital city of Port Moresby – on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea’s mainland peninsula.]

Benson Nablu had vowed to get rid of "terrorists" from the Two Mile to Six Mile areas outside the city after he narrowly escaped death on Saturday.

Mr. Nablu spent the weekend rallying support from all the local landowning communities - some of whom had retaliated and raided the Five Mile area and assaulted people.

One settlement youth, who was armed with a homemade gun, was badly beaten up by Mr. Nablu’s relatives.

Mr. Nablu said yesterday that the community must own up and surrender those armed hooligans and their guns.

Police and the provincial government had done enough and "now we, the local people are going to take it up with the criminals".

Mr. Nablu’s anger followed an incident on Saturday where two men armed with guns jumped onto the road and pointed their guns at his vehicle as he approached the old Five Mile weighing station at about 2 p.m.

He immediately slowed down and reversed his vehicle at high speed for about 300 metres.

On board were his wife, 13-year-old son and three-year-old granddaughter.

Instead of helping him, the community in the area hurled stones and missiles at his vehicle, causing extensive damage.

As he made a ‘U’- turn to dive back to his village, more rocks were thrown at his vehicle in full view of people at a roadside market and street vendors.

He returned to his village and announced his attack to some young men who were playing rugby league.

They stopped their game and took a lift on a passing truck on the Highlands Highway to Five Mile.

They attacked people and raided houses and shops.

In recent times, four people were killed in the same spot. They included an Air Niugini staff member, an Atzera woman, a Mumeng woman and another person. Numerous other people and businessmen had been attacked.

Mr. Nablu said he was calling a law and order forum to address this issue at his Yalu village house outside Lae on Saturday.

He said all his community leaders had indicated their attendance.

He said a special invitation was made to the leaders of the Five Mile settlement to attend and make a commitment to stop the "stupidity and madness" that had been going on for too long.

Mr. Nablu challenged Morobe Governor Luther Wenge and other leaders to attend the meeting.

"I invite him to attend this forum with other leaders from Ahi, Wampar, Atzera, Mumeng, Bulolo, Wau and other Morobeans who depended on the highway," he said.

November 23, 2005

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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