PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, July 4) – Gunmen in four vehicles attempted to stop Papua New Guinea’s Opposition leader Peter O’Neill as he was heading into Ialibu from his home in Pangia yesterday.

Reports reaching The National from Ialibu said the gunmen, who were aiding a candidate, were waiting to ambush Mr O’Neill near Tindua village.

Villagers sensing what was unfolding travelled up the road and waved down Mr O’Neill’s convoy and warned him to turn back.

They cut trees and put stones on the road to slow down the gunmen and ensured Mr O’Neill got away safely, an eyewitness said last night.

"The gunmen were pursuing Mr O’Neill in their vehicles, but the villagers blocked the road and stopped them," the eyewitness said, adding no shots were fired from either the gunmen or the Opposition leader’s bodyguards.

He said police and members of the PNG Defence Force later provided a safe passage for Mr OíNeill through Ialibu to Mendi.

The security force contingent was in Pangia to provide escort for ballot boxes from the district, which were brought to Mendi and safely stored away for counting.

Government officials contacted in Mendi last night said Mr OíNeill was badly shaken by the incident, but was resting in Mendi.

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