4 Nov 2014

Bougainvilleans wary of Aust soldiers

7:21 am on 4 November 2014

The vice president of the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville says some people are sceptical about an Australian-led military operation to clear Second World War bombs.

Operation Render Safe began last week in Torokina, and Patrick Nisira says 1,200 bombs as big as 900 kilograms have been cleared in its first week.

Mr Nisira says the operation has done great work, but some locals are sceptical about Australia's motives for being on Bougainville, given its involvement in the civil war.

"There are some quarters, especially former combatants and die-hard independence supporters who say that the continuous presence of the Australian military personnel might influence the outcome of the referendum. I mean, it's wholly due to the fact that Australia assisted the PNG Defence Force in various ways during the conflict. It's still fresh in the minds of the people."

Bougainville's Vice President Patrick Nisira.