BOUGAINVILLE VILLAGERS SKIRMISH WITH ARMED

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Notorious Musingku gang occupies gold mine

By Jacob Potoura PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 11, 2009) – THE move by Damien Koike’s armed group to steal gold at the Sinimi gold mining site in Wisai-Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, has stemmed serious fighting between members of the Wisai Liberation Movement (WILMO).

Koike and his men, alleged to be Noah Musingku’s men from Tonu, have put up bunkers within the perimeter of the mine despite last week’s shooting of three of their men by members of WILMO.

[PIR editor’s note: Noah Musingku, whose "U-Vistract" pyramid scheme bilked millions of dollars out of Pacific investors, has long been a fugitive from the law in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. But despite outstanding warrants for his arrest, Musingku was able to set operations in Bougainville, with armed followers in 2008. PNG authorities have since failed to apprehend him. ]

Commander for Wisai Liberation Movement Philip Pusua said the Sinimi alluvial gold mining site was held by 40 armed men and civilians mainly young and old men from Mogoroi village. He said that the Koike’s me’ekamui faction did not have customs and respect for other people’s properties. He said the Wisai people were defending themselves because they were provoked on their own land by armed criminals who did not respect lives and properties.

"The issue in Wisai is not peace but guns in criminals’ hands. This is because the Wisai people remain in their respective boundaries and were already living in peace but the so called Me’ekamui elements are leaving their villages and moving in with their guns to kill us and to claim our land." Mr. Pusua further said that the Wisai conflict had become more like a natural disaster but no one has yet come up with a lasting solution.

"The conflict has taken two years now and the government has not been doing anything to seriously address the issue despite our pleas to establish a Police post and to provide security to our people in the Wisai area."

"It is the Government’s constitutional duty to protect its people and their properties from criminals," he said

Mr. Pusua said the Wisai conflict must not be termed as a minor problem manipulated by small people but a law and order problem for Bougainville as continued ignorance and negligence from higher level would severely affect the future for Bougainville.

He said that Bougainville would go through referendum in a few years time and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) should come up with a tough weapons disposal plan to solve the situation once and for all.

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