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Confiscate high powered weapons

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, March 31, 2009) – Polongo Kuiupini villagers in the Pangia district, Southern Highlands province, overpowered a gang of armed criminals, confiscated two of their high-powered guns and handed them over to Mendi police.

During a ceremony at Pologo village recently, the villagers handed an M16-A1 automatic rifle with five 5.56mm cartridges in a magazine and a Mark III rifle 1942 model to provincial police commander Supt Jimmy Onopia.

Supt Onopia told The National from Mendi that the criminals had travelled in from Western Highlands province in two Land Cruisers and were trying to hold up a pastor and his family about 2am on March 14 at Pologo village when the villagers retaliated and a fight broke out.

He said the gang forced open the door while the family was sleeping.

When Pr Amos’ wife, Anna, emerged from her room to investigate, a man jammed the muzzle of the M16 rifle against her chest.

Supt Onopia said Mrs. Amos grabbed the barrel of the gun, pushed it from her and called out "Praise the Lord".

He said the armed man was so shocked at hearing those words that he dropped to the floor.

By that time, neighbours and nearby villagers rushed to her rescue, he said.

A fight broke out outside the house, Supt Onopia said.

He said the gang members realised they were outnumbered, rushed to their cars and fled, leaving two of their armed members behind.

The abandoned men ran after the two speeding vehicles, pursued by the villagers, Supt Onopia said.

He said the gunmen fired several shots at the villagers, wounding several, but this did not stop the villagers from continuing the chase.

Supt Onopia said the chase continued to Tiawa village, 8km from Pologo village, where the two gunmen were captured with their weapons.

He said the villagers tied up the gunmen and took them back to Pologo village, "where Pr Amos, of the Assembly of God church, accommodated them as his guests".

Later that morning, the pastor told the two men that he forgave their sins and allowed them to go free instead of taking them to the police, Supt Onopia said.

However, two youths from Pologo village, who allegedly conspired with the raiding party, were arrested last weekend and charged with conspiring to commit a criminal act, he said.

The motive for the attack is not known.

The National:

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