PNG WORK CREWS BATTLE IN STREETS OF LAE

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Trespassing worker triggered all out warfare

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, September 2, 2009) – The apparent stupidity of a trespasser, who was bitten by a dog while trespassing, has escalated into a street fight that has cost two companies millions of damages in property.

In the street battle along Speybank Road in downtown Lae City yesterday, workers from the Lae Builders & Construction company clashed with employees of the

Frabelle fishing company.

The general manager of the Lae Builders & Construction company required medical treatment for a head wound after he was hit with a rock in the face while trying to stop the fight.

LBC, owned by prominent businessman Sir Bob Sinclair, lost property worth over K2.5 million [US$961, 000] when one of its excavators was torched by Frabelle workers and other vehicles and a shed were smashed.

Police were called to the scene yesterday morning to monitor the situation and fired warning shots in the air to ward off angry LBC workers who turned up at the Frabelle factory.

The gates to the factory were earlier torn down by an LBC heavy machine, sending cannery workers fleeing for cover inside the factory. Sticks and stones flew down the street as workers from both sides exchanged a barrage of missiles.

Some workers were injured. Frabelle workers were seen carrying bush knives, spears and metal bars as they chased LBC workers back up the street. The pitched battle ended when police and security guards arrived.

Sir Bob also arrived and addressed the warring parties, calling for an end to the hostilities and to let police investigate. The problem started when a Frabelle employee trespassed on a property managed by a Walter Kiong of Bukawa down near the wharf. Mr. Kiong previously worked in partnership with the late businessman Roger Cunningham. The trespasser was bitten by a dog on the property and an argument ensued during which the Frabelle employee was severely bashed up, police said. The employee returned to his factory on Monday and mobilised his fellow workers and they then attacked Mr Kiong and his relatives, who were inside an adjacent property belonging to LBC. In the attack, they damaged buildings and set fire to an LBC excavator. On hearing news of the attack, angry LBC workers retaliated and attacked the fish factory with sticks and stones. Mr Kiong said he had waited for the Frabelle employees to sort out the matter at the Lae Market police station on Monday afternoon but no-one turned up.

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