Soldiers block highlands road after fight

National, Normal

The National, Friday, May 20, 2011

BAIYER people travelling into Mt Hagen city, Western Highlands, on Wednesday morning were stranded for five hours after PNGDF engineering battalion personnel  allegedly blocked the road.
The personnel blocked the road at Moka Bridge at 6am with their six-tonne dump truck after villagers at Antiga Primary School area smashed three side glasses of a 10-seater Toyota Landcruiser they were using.
Three soldiers allegedly attacked a drunk villager at Antiga Primary School who had stopped them at 11.30pm and asked them for a lift to Rama district headquarters so he could buy beer.
 Villager Joe Benny, who claimed he had been assaulted by the soldiers, said yesterday afternoon they and seven villagers in the vehicle were all drunk.
He said when he stopped the vehicle and asked for a lift, the two soldiers sitting in front asked him why he stopped them and attacked  him.
He said their colleagues then got off and joined them.
Benny said after being punched, he fell, and a tribesman, who had been watching from the side, smashed three side glasses of the vehicle and fought them.
He said they were beaten up, with his tribesman suffering a big cut on his head while he had swollen arm and bruises all over his body.
He said in the morning, the soldiers used one of their trucks used to build the Baiyer-Madang road to block the road.
Benny said that traffic came to a standstill for five hours before a non-commissioned officer assisted in getting the truck off the road.