14 Feb 2005

Besieged Bougainville school suffers attack, theft of equipment

4:52 pm on 14 February 2005

Police are holding a number of people in custody after a break in and attempted arson yesterday at a besieged school in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville.

Computers were stolen during the break-in while there are also reports that police foiled an attempt to torch four of the classrooms.

The incident follows a two-week-long stand off at the Hutjena High School on Buka, which has kept it from opening for the academic year.

The so-called Hutjena Home Guard had been occupying the premises and demanding payment for guarding the facility during Bougainville's civil war.

But, the provincial administration says it has already paid them some money and is opposed to making any further payments.

The 600-student school has recently had a multi-million dollar refurbishment courtesy of the European Union.