ONE CANDIDATE KILLED, ANOTHER SHOT AT IN PNG

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By James Gumuno

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, June 13) - A candidate contesting the 2007 general elections was stabbed to death, while there were reports that police and bodyguards foiled what appeared to be an attempt on the life of Deputy Prime Minister Don Polye.

The two incidents happened in different locations in Enga province over the long weekend, sparking fears the ugly face of election violence is beginning to rear its head with polling less than three weeks away.

In Wabag, Ananias Popo, president of the Highlands Soccer Association and the man credited with the rapid rise of soccer in Enga, was stabbed to death in Wabag town on Monday afternoon.

Popo, originally from the Simbu province but who settled in Enga, was a candidate for the Chuave Open seat.

He went to Enga for a break from campaigning and to visit his family, when he was attacked by an assailant, who had approached him and demanded that he pay monies owed for renovations done to his house in Tetemanda village, just outside Wabag town.

Provincial police commander Teddy Tei confirmed the killing, but gave no details.

Police has detained a suspect in connection with the killing.

In Kandep, the Deputy Prime Minister was whisked away by policemen and his bodyguards as he was addressing a rally at a rugby league oval in Kandep station last Saturday.

An eyewitness, who accompanied Mr. Polye to the rally, said Polye was on the podium giving his speech to a big crowd, when bodyguards, suspecting a security breach, quickly surrounded Polye and whisked him away.

"Policemen and bodyguards acted quickly because they suspected a man who was approaching the podium was armed. It happened so quickly everyone was confused. Polye was taken into a waiting vehicle and driven away," the eyewitness said.

There were gunfire minutes later coming from two different areas, which prompted the crowd to flee in all directions, the eyewitness said.

Mr. Tei said yesterday he has received sketchy report about the incident, and was awaiting a full report from his men.

The Deputy Prime Minister is believed to be in his village and could not be reached for comments.

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