7 Oct 2004

PNG police hunt for missing Bougainville pair

11:24 am on 7 October 2004

Police in Papua New Guinea are searching for an Australian and a Briton who have vanished on the island of Bougainville.

An Australian, Jeff Richards and a British man, James Nessbit, were aboard an aircraft that landed without authorisation in Aropa.

The two are reported to have been in the company of a Bougainvillean man who sources say is Noah Musingku - the wanted head of a failed PNG pyramid scheme.

When the group arrived it was reportedly picked up by supporters of rebel leader, Francis Ona, who has maintained a no-go zone in the centre of Bougainville.

The Papua New Guinea Police Commissioner, Sam Inguba, says the two foreigners are representatives of international finance companies who have been invited in by rebel leaders.

Commissioner Inguba says officers are searching for the men to ask them about the purpose of their trip.

Police have been questioning an Australian pilot whose plane also landed in the same area of Bougainville, without government clearance.