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PNG police clash with conman's troops Print
oceania May 11, 2006
Police on the PNG island of Bougainville have exchanged fire with armed men working for alleged conman and self-proclaimed king Noah Musingku.

An auxiliary policeman sustained serious injuries after being stabbed and three police houses were torched during clashes on Tuesday involving two former Fijian soldiers working for Musingku, police said.

Five Fijians training a private security force for Musingku have spent months at his Tonu base, refusing to heed requests to leave from Fijian, Papua New Guinean and Bougainvillean authorities concerned their presence could destabilise the island's fragile peace process.

Acting Bougainville Assistant Police Commissioner Paul Kamuai said there was a clash at Panakei in the island's south when police at a checkpoint stopped a vehicle transporting armed Meekamui Movement soldiers loyal to Musingku.

Ezekiel Massat, the police minister in Bougainville's autonomous government, told PNG's Post-Courier newspaper the occupants opened fire on police after they were ordered out of the vehicle. 

"When they opened fire, our men responded back and a heavy exchange of gunfire took place, but no one was hurt," Massat was quoted as saying.

Kamuai said the Meekamui men, who were accompanied by the two Fijians, then went to the Panakei police post where they ransacked the premises, destroyed police records and torched the kitchen.

They then went to the Boku police post where they burnt down three police houses and later torched the Siwai district manager's office at Ameu and stole a radio, he said.

Massat said he planned to travel to Port Moresby to discuss the incidents with Internal Security Minister Mark Maipakai and PNG Police Commissioner Sam Inguba.

Musingku, who calls himself King Peii II, sparked regional concerns last year after hiring eight Fijians to train his private security force on Bougainville - a region of PNG with its own autonomous government.

Three of the Fijians were later persuaded to leave.

Musingku is wanted by authorities over the U-Vistract banking scam which has duped thousands of investors in Bougainville, the rest of PNG, the Solomon Islands and Fiji.

The Fijians, who have worked for security firms in Iraq, Afghanistan and other hotspots, have reportedly been promised $US1 million ($NZ1.6 million) each by Musingku. 

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