22 Feb 2018

Solomons police hunt for Bougainvillean fugitives

8:50 am on 22 February 2018

Police in Solomon Islands' western province are calling for calm as they search for a group of Bougainvilleans who escaped from custody in the provincial capital Gizo yesterday.

Solomon Islands police

Photo: RNZ/ Koroi Hawkins

The 29 men where intercepted by police on Tuesday near Vella La Vella travelling in three separate boats and were taken in for questioning on suspicion of having entered Solomon Islands from PNG illegally.

Around 100 police officers are involved in the search with the assistance of both Solomon Islands' police patrol boats, which were deployed from the capital Honiara.

Solomon Islands Police Commissioner Matthew Varley said the men had not been charged, but they escaped while police were working to establish their immigration status.

He called on the Bougainville community in Solomon Islands to assist authorities if they have any information on the men's whereabouts.

Bougainville Island sits right on the maritime border between Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands and illegal border crossings by communities on both sides are an ongoing concern for both PNG and Solomons police.