23 Feb 2005

Bougainville school at centre of stand off not to open till next week - teachers and students trauma

4:34 pm on 23 February 2005

It will be several more days yet before students at Hutjena High School on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville can resume their lessons.

The students were expected to return to class this week following the occupation of their Buka-based school by young men from a group calling itself the Hangan Home Guard.

The group had sought compensation for guarding the school during the Bougainville civil war, but police intervened during a stand-off ten days ago and arrested 22 youths.

Many more are still being questioned by police, who estimate the damage to the school at 26 hundred US dollars.

Sources in Bougainville say the school did not open as expected on Monday because many of the 600 students, and some teachers, are still too traumatised by the events.

The school, Bougainville's largest and oldest, is now expected to open for the new school year next Monday, four weeks late.