Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Drunks attack MAF flight

Mission Aviation cancels all runs into remote Karimui


CHIMBU’S Karimui has been cut off from the rest of the world following an attack and robbery by four drunken men in the district’s airstrip last Friday, The National reports.

The highly intoxicated knife-wielding men attacked the pilot and his passengers after the MAF Twin Otter landed on the remote Karimui airstrip.

Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), the only third-level airliner operating in Karimui, has suspended its operations indefinitely following the attack.

Passenger and Karimui High School and Lutheran church strongman Isaiah Kamun Yalbai said he tried to stop the drunken assailants from attacking the pilot and was slashed with bush knives.

He turned up at The National office in Goroka yesterday morning to recall his ordeal at the hands of the drunkards.

“I returned from Goroka carrying K2, 000 worth of items, including 300 Bibles, 50 litres of diesel and other items to stage an inter-church denomination gathering to pray for Karimui.

“We believed the district may have been cursed in terms of efficient flow of basic services and the churches, led by Lutheran church, are organising the gathering themed ‘breaking generation of curse proclaiming prosperity and growth’ to be staged from July 5-9,” he said.

“But, we were attacked soon after the plane landed and while we were unloading the cargo. The diesel container was slashed and the diesel spilled and the cargo, including the Bibles, was stolen.

“One of the assailants whom I recognised attacked and when I retaliated, the other armed men slashed me from behind.

“I was cut on the back of my head. Another slashed my hands and arm and I collapsed.

“The pilot rushed up to apply first aid but I fainted due to heavy loss of blood,” he said.

He said: “The pilot and my wife then carried me back into the plane, flew to Goroka and admitted me to the Goroka Base Hospital.”

Yalbai identified two of the assailants-cum-robbers as elementary school teachers.

He said 12 other passengers, who also sustained injuries in the attack, were still in Karimui with no access to medical treatment.

“The assailants are believed to have been frustrated by district officials who failed to settle outstanding payments for work done.

“The police must step up its manpower in Chimbu because law and order is getting out of control. Infants and young girls are being abused as youths get intoxicated by homebrew and marijuana,” he said.

“Health services and schools are closed; Karimui High School is closed,” he added.

Acting provincial police commander Albert Korin could not be reached for comments yesterday as several calls went unanswered.

The MAF office in Goroka yesterday confirmed the indefinite suspension of flights into and out of Karimui until the people of Karimui guaranteed the safety of passengers, pilots and crew.

The MAF source also said it was up to the Karimui community to resolve the matter with the injured and allow law and order to return and guarantee safety before flights could resume.

“For now, flights into Karimui are suspended indefinitely,” the source told The National.



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