Ex-Combatants Assist Bougainville Police During Holidays

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Authorities report less problems compared to prior years

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 8, 2013) – For the first time, ex-combatants and Community Auxiliary Police (CAP) were engaged in special police operations for the festive period in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Assistant commissioner of police in the region, Thomas Eluh, said the 14-day operation began on Dec 24 and ended on Monday.

Eluh said the operations discovered there were fewer problems related to homebrew and unlawful use of firearms during the festive period last year compared to previous years.

He said, even though there was a shortage of manpower with 179 police officers who were evenly distributed throughout the region, the successful liaison with the Bougainville government enabled the use of ex-combatants and CAPs.

He said the ex-combatants and CAPs were used in the districts of South, North and Central Bougainville.

Eluh said former Bougainville Revolutionary Army member Ishmael Toroama helped out in the operation with manpower and logistics.

He said in the previous years, police encountered problems with homebrew and guns but last year was different with no reports of such activities taking place.

Eluh thanked all stakeholders that played a key role in the operations in ensuring there was peace and harmony in the communities. He said many communities held reconciliation ceremonies.

This year will be Eluh’s third year as ACP Bougainville.

He is proud in revamping the force in the region, which he said, was in disarray when he first joined them two years ago.

He has plans to improve housing for the officers and provide more training and have an exchange program with police in East New Britain.

Eluh said officers found to be unlawfully breaking laws would be sacked.

In other reports, police confiscated two pistols and live ammunition from a police reservist in Bougainville after he discharged it last Friday. The officer was reportedly angry after his son’s body was found on Saturday and discharged the firearm. The son had drowned earlier in the week.

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