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Porgera security ops set to kick off

by David Muri The National – Papua New Guinea
April 6th, 2009

INTERNAL Security Minister Sani Rambi says more than 300 security personnel will be deployed to the strife-torn Porgera valley in Enga province to flush out warlords and stop illegal mining activities.

The situation in the area is volatile after 11 people, including a reserve policeman, were killed in ongoing tribal warfare last week.

Mr Rambi said the National Government had approved a submission of K5 million through an NEC decision last Tuesday for paramilitary operations in the area.

“The call-out will involve more than 300 men and women from the Defence Force and police to go in there and deal with the lunatics who have been terrorising, hijacking and killing the innocent for so long.

“Enough is enough and now action will be taken,” Mr Rambi said.

Mr Rambi and Deputy Prime Minister and Mining Minister Dr Puka Temu also met with the global president of the Barrick Group, Aaron Regent, in Port Moresby over the weekend and assured him of the Government’s commitment to deal with illegal miners in the world-class mine.

He said the security operation would start some time this week, after approved funds were released by the Treasury Department.

He said the call-out would be for three months but it would be extended if there was a need for continuity.

Mr Rambi also expressed concern over the killing of a reserve police officer at Kairik village last Wednesday.

The policeman is among 11 people killed in three days of intense gun battles last week.
Entire hamlets from Tipinini to Kairik have been completely burnt down and properties worth thousands of kina were destroyed.

Only a single church remains visible in the midst of the ash-riddled war zone.
The ongoing warfare between the Nomail and Aiakona tribes has also kept thousands of children away from school.

Nomail leader Lawa Inganape told The National at Kairik that their village was invaded in a surprise dawn raid during which the reserve police officer and another man were shot dead.

They retaliated and killed seven warriors from Aiakona last Thursday.

Two men from Nomail had also died.

Asked if he could recall the number of deaths in the three-year-long conflict, he said: “We don’t keep a proper record.

“There’s a man (casualty) here, women, children and animals there so I can’t give you a precise figure.

“But the men folk in the area are being gradually reduced with modern weapons.”
Sophisticated weaponry was being displayed on the highway but The National was advised against taking pictures because of safety reasons.

Mr Rambi had warned the warring tribesmen not to harass the travelling public and trucks destined for Porgera mine as security personnel would be deployed to deal with them.
He said the special operations would also target the hotspots along the Wabag-Porgera highway including Laiagam, Kandep and Sirunki.

He warned the fighters to lay down their arms immediately.


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