PNG in second attack on Solomons

Issue 

PNG in second attack on Solomons

By Norm Dixon

Papua New Guinea Defence Force commandos and their Australian-supplied patrol boats attacked a village in the Solomon Islands for a second time on March 18.

The raid destroyed the Kariki petrol depot, which had provided fuel to Bougainvilleans who have crossed the border to try to collect petrol denied to them by PNG's blockade. In the previous attack, the storage tanks were damaged.

The latest attack also burned two houses to the ground and badly damaged another. Solomon Islands police commissioner Fred Soaki described the attack as an act of war. He described to Radio Australia what took place: "In the night, they landed in the same village again ... on the Shortlands Islands and opened fire on the fuel depot and set ablaze all the fuel there. They even went on to fire at the homes where people live."

Solomon Islands police boats chased the patrol boat, flying the PNG flag, back across the border.

The raids follow growing tension between PNG and the Solomons over continued contact between Bougainvilleans and Solomon Islanders. The Solomon Islands government has not prevented Bougainvilleans buying supplies from shops in Solomons, has allowed sick Bougainvilleans to be treated in its hospitals and has allowed representatives of the Bougainville interim government to be present in Honiara.

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