15 Aug 2006

Tensions between PNG and Indonesia remain high after shooting incident

7:18 pm on 15 August 2006

Nine Indonesian fishermen involved in a violent border incident have been fined and sent home from Papua New Guinea, amid heightened tensions between the two neighbours.

Meanwhile an investigation is underway into the death of a colleague of the fishermen, shot dead by PNG soldiers last week near the northern border with the Indonesian province of Papua.

Diplomatic tensions have been raised by the incident, with Indonesian authorities accusing PNG of using excessive force by shooting dead a fisherman and wounding two others who had illegally entered PNG waters.

PNG soldiers reportedly fired at the Indonesian boat's outboard motor to disable it but shots hit the three fishermen.

PNG's police commander in Sandaun Province, Richard Mulou, has told AAP from Vanimo that nine fishermen detained after the incident had pleaded guilty to illegally entering PNG waters.

He says they had paid their 60 US dollar fines and have now been released across the border.

The body of the slain fisherman was returned to family members last week.

But tension remains around the border post at Wutung, with many Papua New Guineans choosing not to cross to shop in the border markets on the Papua side.