Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bulolo MP commits K100, 000 for fight victims as Hidden Valley gold mine comes under tight security

Bulolo MP Sam Basil today (Sunday) committed K100, 000 from his district funds to provide immediate relief for victims of the two-day standoff between Biangai and Watut villagers last Friday and Saturday.

Mr Basil, flanked by Morobe Governor Luther Wenge, Menyamya MP Benjamin Philip and provincial administrator Patilias Gamato, made the commitment at Kaisanek village, which was burned to the ground by raiding Watut villagers last Friday, leaving 300-400 people homeless.

He said K40, 000 would go towards combating the existing law and order problem, while K60, 000 would help the affected villagers to rebuild their homes.

Mr Philip made a pledge of K5, 000 while the Morobe provincial government will have an urgent provincial executive council meeting today (Monday) to discuss its assistance.

Mr Basil urged Kaisanek and other Biangai villagers not to take the law into their own hands after being attacked by the Watuts.

Earlier, the group met with a group of Watuts at Wau, who said they would give their reasons for attacking the Biangai villagers within seven days.

The leaders late yesterday flew into Upper Watut, where tension was running high, and told the 1,000 or so people not to partake in any more violence as the matter was being looked into.

Meantime, the Hidden Valley gold mine is being guarded by a 40-man mobile squad from Port Moresby after being invaded by up to 2,000 Watut villagers last Saturday.

Provincial administrator Patilias Gamato said he and provincial police commander Peter Guiness saw 1,000-2,000 Watut people, mainly youths, converge on Hidden Valley last Saturday only to be turned back by the mobile squad.

“We brought in a police mobile squad from Port Moresby late on Saturday afternoon to guard the mine,” he said.

Mr Gamata said many long-running issues had contributed to the standoff, including a recent incident at the McAdam National Park, where a Watut man was allegedly killed by Biangais.

Just last week, up to 57 Biangai men were jailed, for allegedly fighting against the Watuts and killing the man.


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