8 Aug 2006

PNG pins hope on highlands gun amnesty

6:23 pm on 8 August 2006

The Papua New Guinea government is hoping that hundreds of guns, held by the community in Southern Highlands Province, will be surrendered in an amnesty.

Last week, the government replaced the province's administration in an effort to restore public services and end graft.

Hundreds of additional police and an army unit will be trying to recover an estimated 2,500 illegal weapons in the province in a three-month amnesty.

After that guns are to be seized by force.

The news agency AAP says removing the guns will not be easy.

It reports villagers as saying they rely on their arsenals to protect themselves from raids by people in neighbouring villages.

The agency quotes one villager as saying that he bought an AK-47 assault rifle for about 5,000 US dollars for protection through the sale of cannabis.

The man told the agency villagers will not surrender their weapons if they know potential raiders from other villages have not surrendered theirs.