The National, Monday, June 6th 2011
FOUR men from Bougainville are main suspects in a cross-border raid on the gold prospecting camp in the Solomon Islands’ Western province, the Solomon Star newspaper reported at the weekend.
The newspaper reported yesterday the gang had been identified as from Siwai, in the southern part of the autonomous region.
The Solomon Islands acting police commissioner Walter Kola told a media conference in Honiara last Thursday that according to information that came through to his office, the four men were identified as main players in the armed raid at the Solomon Gold prospecting camp near Kariki village at Fauro in the Shortland Islands.
He said that according to information gathered during investigations the four men were “clearly identified as from Siwai”, The Star reported.
Solomons police had not made any arrest yet but were questioning 10 men in relation to the raid although Kola did not specifically say whether the four Bougainvilleans were among them.
He said that although the suspects have been identified, police had to follow some bilateral procedures before they could be questioned by local police in Honiara.
The Star said this was because the suspects were from Bougainville which was part of Papua New Guinea.
“It is an issue that needs to be dealt with by the two governments, foreign affairs and police heads of the two different countries so that a mutual understanding can be established,” Kola was quoted as saying.
Earlier police reports also confirmed the Bougainvilleans were assisted by some criminal elements in the area.
Although firearms were used, there were no reports of injuries.
The Star said that during the raid the armed men damaged properties and stole 20 bags of soil containing minerals extracted from the prospecting site.