6 May 2011

South Bougainville not safe for officers say police

8:07 am on 6 May 2011

Bougainville's assistant police commissioner says armed militants in the south of the autonomous province of Papua New Guinea are making it unsafe for officers to work there.

The comment follows a suggestion by Bougainville's president, John Momis, that United Nations peacekeepers may be needed to deal with lawlessness and violence in the area.

Assistant commissioner Thomas Eluh says a group of about 30 men under the command of a former Bougainville Revolutionary Army combatant named Damien Koike are killing civilians.

But Mr Eluh says it's too risky to send officers to investigate.

"In terms of manpower, I'm really down in manpower at the moment. I mean I've got only about 179 police personnel who are not, according to the peace agreement and the constitution, it does not allow police to be armed so we are confronted with all these challenges."

Thomas Eluh says the police are hoping civil society organisations may be successful in negotiating Damien Koike's surrender.