VANUATU POLICE RECOVER STOLEN ARTIFACTS

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, May 1) – Vanuatu police have recovered stolen traditional artefacts about to be taken out of the country.

The consignment contained a stone carved sacred pig and other items from Vao Island in northwest Malekula.

Police said the carving went missing last December and detectives are looking for suspects from Ambrym Island who were allegedly bribed by a foreign collector from America to remove the stone carving.

The carving was to have been shipped to the US via Noumea and Auckland.

Immigration and Customs officials intercepted the container, as it was about to leave for Noumea from Port Vila International Airport.

Police cannot explain how the stone was removed from the site saying it was just too heavy for many men to carry.

The Vanuatu cultural centre says smuggling of traditional artefacts from Vanuatu is increasing.

May 2, 2006

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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