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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 11) – Tension in South Bougainville remains high after a heavy exchange of gunfire between a Me’ekamui faction siding with failed money scheme U-Vistract and Bougainville police in Papua New Guinea on Tuesday afternoon.

[PIR editor’s note: Mekamui is a rebel government of Bougainville, once headed by the late warlord Francis Ona. Creator of failed U-Vistract, Noah Musingku, has been reportedly hiring Fiji counter revolutionary warfare soldiers to train a militant army for his self-proclaimed empire in Bougainville.]

The incident resulted in the burning of three police houses and the ransacking of the Siwai District office by the U-Vistract faction. Two former Fiji soldiers now with U-Vistract’s Noah Musingku in Tonu, South Bougainville, were allegedly involved in the incident, police said.

Acting Bougainville Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Kamuai said the incident was the result of a U-Vistract plan to take over all Autonomous Bougainville Government installations in the region. He said an auxiliary policeman was stabbed in the incident and sustained serious injuries.

The confrontation has prompted Autonomous Bougainville Government Police Minister Ezekiel Massatt to travel to Port Moresby to discuss the matter with Papua New Guinea Police Commissioner Sam Inguba and Internal Security Minister Mark Maipakai. Confirming the incident yesterday, Mr. Massatt and Mr. Kamuai said 16 men, including the Fijians, were involved in the incidents, which occurred at Panakei and Boku, South Bougainville. Mr. Massatt said police — acting on information — were conducting checks at Panakei when a vehicle approached them. The police stopped the vehicle, ordered the occupants out and when they disembarked, they split into two groups and opened fire on police.

"When they opened fire, our men responded back and a heavy exchange of gunfire took place — but no one was hurt," Mr. Massatt said.

The men also fired at another oncoming police vehicle, damaging it, said Mr. Massatt. The U-Vistract Me’ekamui men then went to the Panakei police post, burning down the kitchen and ransacking the premises, destroying police records.

Mr. Kamuai said the men then went to Boku police post and burned down three houses. They also went to Ameu in the immediate area, destroying the Siwai District manager’s office and stealing his VHF radio.

May 11, 2006

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