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By Zachery Per

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, April 6) – Armed men blocked the Highlands Highway in Henganofi, Eastern Highlands province of Papua New Guinea, and attacked passengers who were traveling in a convoy of buses to Goroka and Mt. Hagen from Lae.

[PIR editor’s note: Eastern Highlands Province is located in the central part of Papua New Guinea’s mainland peninsula. Goroka is its provincial capital, whereas Mt. Hagen is the provincial capital of Western Highlands Province. Henganofi, where the blockade occurred, is located to the southeast of Goroka.]

The incident happened at around 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

More than 500 passengers were traveling up the highway in 26 Public Motor Vehicle buses when they encountered a roadblock at Henganofi.

Paki Raima, a passenger in one of the buses, said the armed men blocked the road with two old vehicle frames.

The men were armed with guns, knives, bows and arrows and stones and started hurling missiles at the buses when they stopped.

"We don’t know what caused the attacks. Several passengers received injuries while the buses ended up with smashed windscreens," Mr. Raima said.

Public Motor Vehicle drivers Ismael Tony from Kindeng and Simon Tep of Mt Hagen said the experience was very scary. A crew on one of the buses Elly Opa, from Kindeng in Western Highlands, sustained a deep cut to his left hand and dislocated a shoulder during the attack.

Eastern Highlands provincial police commander Superintendent Philip Solala yesterday sent a police unit to Henganofi to investigate the incident.

Superintendent Solala also warned Public Motor Vehicle operators and the public not to endanger lives by traveling on the highway late at night.

April 7, 2006

The National:

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