3 Feb 2006

Solomon Islands police say PNG border now difficult to monitor

8:12 am on 3 February 2006

The Solomon Islands Police Commissioner says the border the country shares with Papua New Guinea is proving difficult to monitor.

Last week armed men from neighbouring Bougainville raided Ovau in Solomon Islands.

The bandits sped away with money, VHF radios, petrol and other items belonging to workers at the local operation of the Earth Movers Logging company.

Shane Castles says it is not the first time this sort of activity has occurred and he says there is only so much that can be done.

"Unless you have boats and entry points dedicated right along that border every hundred meters, which is an absolute impossibility, it's very difficult. The other thing that needs to be recognised along that border is that there are an enormous number of traditional inhabitants that live on both sides of the border, that cross the border on a daily basis."

Shane Castles says he has contacted his PNG counterpart and he is confident their collective intelligence will lead to arrests soon.

At least four of the suspects or the offenders are known and readily identifiable so there is a good prospect, I would have thought, that given the preliminary assessment that we may be in a position by cooperating across the border in a police-to-police sense, there would be a reasonable prospect of some success.