6 May 2003

Solomons police confirm 13 people have been killed by a rebel leader

4:16 pm on 6 May 2003

Solomon Islands police now believe that 13 people have been executed by the rebel leader Harold Keke and his supporters in the past month on the remote Weather Coast of Guadalcanal.

Initial reports said that 21 people, mostly former Keke supporters had been killed, but assistant police commissioner John Homelo says they are now convinced that 13 have died.

He says they have not found the bodies but contact police have had with former Keke supporters who witnessed the killings means they are able confirm the deaths.

Mr Homelo says police understand a group from the religious order, the Melanesian Brothers, is still being held captive by Keke.

"the Melanesian brothers who went up there two or three days after those incidents, they are believed to be still there. The police there have not received any information from them, but we believe that they are still held by Harold Keke up in the bush."

Assistant Commissioner Homelo says they hope to send further reinforcements to the Weather Coast later this week, but police activities continue to be hampered by a lack of logistical support.