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Non-Morobe workers targeted

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 5, 2008) – At least six people were injured in a surprise attack at the Hidden Valley gold mine in Morobe Province yesterday morning, halting all construction work there.

Reports reaching the Post-Courier office in Lae say local workers at the mine site attacked non-Morobean workers to chase them away and keep the jobs for themselves.

"We were caught by surprise. We were trying to change our shift when they attacked us. Our mine superintendent was among those that was injured," a spokesman for the workers, who were moved out of the mine site to Lae for their own safety, said last night.

The attack allegedly by Biangai and Watut workers occurred at 7.30am, sending many of the workers fleeing into the bushes.

"Some of us who were at the mine site came away in six busloads. The others that fled into the bushes are still there. They were targeting workers from a particular region but workers from other regions were also attacked," another of those who was brought to Lae said, adding that they were being accommodated in the city.

The injured workers were taken to the Tusa Private Hospital where they were treated for injuries.

According to the managing director of Tusa Hospital, Dr Henry Aikebuse, three men were driven down by car while the other three were flown out by helicopter.

Mamose police commander, Assistant Commissioner Giossi Labi said a mobile squad from Bulolo was rushed to the mine site to protect lives and company property.

"The police station commander in Wau has not come back to me so I have sent a mobile unit from Bulolo in to attend to the situation," he said.THE fight was the latest in a series of incidents that had affected the construction work in progress at the mine site.

On Wednesday, workmen engaged by Lae Builders and Contractors went on strike over pay.

LBC managing director Sir Bob Sinclair confirmed last night that there was a strike by his workers but the situation was addressed with the Labour Department.

He said his men could not go back to work now as the mine was currently closed by the landowners.

"I hope the men get back to work but they cannot because the mine was closed by the landowners," Sir Bob said.

Harmony Gold Mining company spokesman Simon Anakapu said there was a "problem" on site but he did not have enough information as there was a communication problem between Lae and Hidden Valley.

The Hidden Valley gold mine is owned by South African gold miner, Harmony Gold Mining Limited.

Harmony also operates the Wafi/Golpu gold and copper project, also in Bulolo district.

Operations at the Wafi-Golpu project, which is under feasibility studies, were suspended last Friday over an employment dispute with the landowners.

The suspension would apply for two weeks to allow the situation to cool down before work could resume.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:

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