16 Nov 2005

Fiji foreign minister trying to get Fiji mercenaries out of Bougainville

11:26 am on 16 November 2005

Fiji's foreign minister says he has been informed that the nine Fijian mercenaries reported to be operating in Bougainville had visas to enter Papua New Guinea and went across with the sponsorship of their church.

Kaliopate Tavola's comments appear to confirm an earlier report that the Bougainville pyramid scheme operator promising quick money, Noah Musingku, visited Fiji and lured Pentecostal Churches to invest in his scheme before recruiting the former soldiers.

One report says the former soldiers were given visas to work as missionaries on Bougainville.

Radio Fiji quotes Mr Tavola as saying the Fiji government is trying to get in touch with the mercenaries to determine what they are doing on Bougainville.

He says they will involve the police in trying to bring back the mercenaries who are reported to be training youths in the use of high-powered weapons in the rebel held no-go area of Tonu in the Siwai district.

Meanwhile, Fiji's military has distanced itself from the mercenaries saying it has no connection with the former soldiers.

A military spokesman, Lt Col Etuweni Caucau, has described the former members of the now disbanded Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit as dangerous terrorists and urged the Bougainville administration to kick them out.