Friday, 28 April 2017

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Tourists Robbed Some Murdered

An American woman hiking in Papua New Guinea with her London-based boyfriend was gang-raped and three of her fingers slashed in a brutal attack along a famous World War II trail, a report said Wednesday (Jan 13).

PNG police said the pair, both aged 31, were on the Kokoda Track which runs through the jungles of the island state off Australia's northeastern tip when they were attacked and stripped of their belongings including mobile phones, shoes, backpacks and 15,000 kina (US$5,000) in cash.

"Two expatriate tourists, a male and a female, both 31, were trekking the Kokoda Track and heading towards Templeton Two (a campsite) when they were ambushed by armed men," local assistant Police Commissioner Sylvester Kalaut said.

The male trekker was tied to a tree and the female tracker was repeatedly raped before three of her fingers were chopped. The incident took place for an hour before they,trekkers were set free.

Police described the attack as a gang-rape and said at least two suspects carrying bush knives and spears were involved.

One of them was being held by villagers, The National added, which identified the tourists as American and London-based.

The couple fled to a village and were taken to the lawless Pacific island's capital Port Moresby, where they were given medical attention. Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed the attack and added that the couple were hiking without a licensed tour operator.

There are endemic levels of domestic violence against women in the Pacific region, with a 2013 United Nations study finding that 80 per cent of men surveyed in PNG reported physically or sexually abusing their partners.

Two years ago, a US academic was gang-raped by an armed mob in the country while conducting research on birds and the impact of climate change in a remote forest on Karkar Island in Madang province.

In the same year, a group of eight Australian and New Zealand trekkers were violently attacked by bandits, with three of their porters killed, while hiking on the remote Black Cat track.

Four of the eight tourists were also hurt, including one who was speared in the leg.

A group of Australian and New Zealand hikers have been attacked and injured in Papua New Guinea by machete and spear-wielding men, with two guides hacked to death.

The deadly incident happened at dusk on Tuesday after the group set up their tents along the popular and rugged Black Cat Track in the lawless Pacific nation's northern Morobe province, with robbery the suspected motive.

"The attack resulted in the deaths of two PNG nationals who were porters for the group," Australia's department of foreign affairs (DFAT) said.

"Other members of the group, including eight Australians, one New Zealander and a number of PNG nationals, sustained injuries during the attack, however none of the injuries are life-threatening."

PNG police spokesman Dominic Kakas said the porters were hacked to death with machetes and four of the trekkers were badly assaulted, including one who was speared.

One of the expatriates was speared through the left leg, one was slashed on the arm, another suffered severe lacerations to the head and another also had severe cuts, he said.

Some of the other porters were more seriously injured.

There were six people in the group that attacked them, he added, with all escaping.

This was a savage and unprovoked assault by what may have been a gang of thieves, she said, adding that she had been assured authorities in PNG, one of Australia's biggest aid recipients, would fully investigate.

Crime and lawlessness in the poverty-stricken nation is a serious concern, including in the capital Port Moresby where in June four Chinese nationals were hacked to death, with one reportedly beheaded and the others dismembered.

Mark Hitchcock, a spokesman for tour operator PNG Trekking Adventures said the injured Australians were now comfortable and resting.

This is an isolated area, an isolated incident that shocked us all. Totally out of character for the track,he said

This is the first ever trouble that we've had on any track in Papua New Guinea. It's a difficult track, the Black Cat Track, and there have been some issues with other companies a long time ago, but of recent time there's been a lot of development gone into the track since 2005.

While the attack was believed to be a robbery, some reports suggested it could also be related to a disagreement between porters from PNG's lowlands and locals living in the highlands.

The Black Cat Track runs between Wau and Salamaua in northern PNG through leech and snake-infested jungle with precarious drops and potentially dangerous river crossings.

It was the scene of bitter fighting between Australian and US troops and Japanese forces in 1943, and is regarded as one of the most challenging treks in the wild and mountainous country.

Guide book Lonely Planet describes it as "suitable only for masochists and Israeli paratroopers".

DFAT said it was recommending that trekkers avoid the Black Cat Track until further notice.

Four Chinese nationals have been hacked to death in Port Moresby, with one reportedly beheaded and the others dismembered in an attack condemned as “brutal and cowardly” yesterday by Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

O’Neill called for calm after the grisly murders, believed to have been committed with knives or swords in the Koki area of the Pacific nation’s capital on Monday night.

“I condemn this brutal and cowardly attack on the four Chinese nationals,” O’Neill said in a statement.

“I want to assure the government of China and relatives of those killed that police will get all the help necessary to track down and bring the perpetrators to justice,” he added.

The four — three men and a woman — were hacked and stabbed repeatedly by attackers who jumped a high fence outside the bakery they ran near the popular Koki market, according to media reports.

BEHEADED

Radio New Zealand cited police as saying one was beheaded and the others were “chopped up,” although this could not be independently confirmed.

O’Neill said it was a “heinous” crime and urged the business community, “especially those of Chinese and Asian origin,” to remain calm and continue business as usual.

“Police have taken full control and an investigation is underway. Business should continue as normal,” the prime minister said.

Chinese migrants first settled the Pacific islands in the 19th century, but an influx of new migrants — some illegal — since the 1980s has seen them become the focus of political unrest.