Network suspected to be behind PNG pirate attacks

11:06 am on 4 April 2017

A Fijian missionary who survived a pirate attack in Papua New Guinea waters last week has described a slick operation run by a network of people.

nautical knot

Photo: 123rf

Sanaila Ravia Kenivale was among 13 people travelling on a small boat from PNG's south east coast to Ferguson Island when it was held up by men armed with guns and knives.

The gang of about 10 masked men were travelling in a similar seven metre fibreglass boat.

The men, understood to be from PNG, ransacked the boat and stripped out its engine while threatening the drifting passengers with their weapons.

Mr Kenivale said locals told him later it happened regularly and they were lucky to survive.

"Everything happened so fast. They jumped onto our boat. There was actually a machine gun pointing at us and the rest of the crew held bush knives.

"They jumped onto our boat and ordered everyone on the boat to go overboard," he said.

Mr Kenivale said he thought they were not killed because they had a child with them.

The boat passengers managed to get back on board after the gang abandoned them.

They made a phone call with a mobile tossed onto the boat and were picked up after floating with no engine for about three hours.

Mr Kenivale said locals later told them they only travelled on high powered speed boats to avoid being attacked as it was such a regular occurrence.

He said he was told people were normally left to be eaten by sharks.

Map showing Alotau in Southern PNG

Map showing Alotau in Southern PNG Photo: Google

Mr Kenivale said he had been in touch with the Fiji High Commission in Port Moresby about the attack.

He said the PNG police had apologised but said they did not have enough resources to catch those responsible.

Mr Kenivale suspected his group was followed from the town of Alotau from where they set out.

He said there appeared to be a network of people involved.

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