28 Aug 2003

Intervention Force to investigate rebel resurgence claims in Solomon Islands

4:02 am on 28 August 2003

The head of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands says they are investigating reports that followers of the arrested rebel leader Harold Keke have burnt down huts in a couple of villages on Guadalcanal's Weathercoast.

Nick Warner says the reports which came through yesterday are unsubstantiated ands it's too early to confirm claims that a new leader has emerged to replace Keke.

Mr Warner says he was in the area a few days ago and things were quiet and the process of reconciliation between locals and the rebels seemed to be progressing well.

"That doesn't of course mean that nothing has happened but at this stage they are just unconfirmed reports...it is just much to early to jump to these conclusions on the basis of a report of, on the face of it, quite minor incidents, ...I do think the process of reconciliation is working and working quite well down there"

Nick Warner says the intervention forces will investigate the sites where the reported damage was done and make an assessment, before deciding on any possible response.