PNG Soldiers Allegedly Take Part In Port Moresby Revenge Attack

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Family argument prompted violence, compensation demands

By Junior Ukaha

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 8, 2012) – In Papua New Guinea, about 30 armed soldiers allegedly went on a rampage in a revenge attack at a section of 5-Mile Ridge in Port Moresby on Sunday morning.

Senior police and army officers yesterday said they were not aware of the attack.

An eyewitness told The National yesterday that two houses along the Hubert Murray Highway were partly destroyed. A car had its windscreen smashed and household furniture and food gardens destroyed by the soldiers.

Tom Kerari, 40, said the troops had arrived in five 10-seater vehicles and set upon the settlers at around 11am. The attack was in retaliation after a soldier was hit during an argument in the settlement last Saturday.

Kerari, from Kerave village in Henganofi, Eastern Highlands province, and whose home was damaged, said the attack stemmed from a family issue that got out of hand.

He said on May 5, a soldier who had accompanied relatives to a haus krai in the settlement was hit on the head after an argument broke out.

Instead of seeking help from police or trying to resolve the matter with relatives, the soldier, believed to be from Taurama Barracks, mobilized his colleagues who returned on Sunday and attacked the settlers.

"Luckily, we all fled and no one was hurt in the attack," Kerari said.

"The army is supposed to protect us, not turn against us."

The settlers said the soldiers returned that same afternoon and demanded that their colleague be compensated K10,000 [US$4,798] and two pigs on Saturday at 1:00pm or they would burn down more houses.

Defence Force chief-of-staff Alois Tom Urr was disturbed to hear about the incident.

"If it is true, then those soldiers involved will be dealt with by police as it is a criminal matter," he said.

But Urr did not say whether the military would carry out an internal investigation.

National Capital District police operations chief Andy Bawa said he was not aware of the incident.

The settlers tried to lodge a complaint with Gordon police but were told to go to 6-Mile.

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