22 Apr 2003

Solomons police still to confirm Weather Coast killings

4:32 pm on 22 April 2003

Solomon Islands police say they cannot yet confirm reports that rebel leader Harold Keke had recently killed nine people, but a spokesman says the reports are probably correct.

Charles Lemoa says their officers on the Weather Coast where Keke operates have been told that the killings happened late last month.

He says a team is to be sent from Honiara to confirm the reports, but it is still waiting on the availibility of a boat and fuel.

Mr Lemoa says the stories might be true because the information came from people formerly associated with Keke.

"because from what I have heard, is that there is about three people who escaped from his camp and they are the ones who relayed the information about the killing - and maybe the motive behind that is because they are going against him or trying to release some information to the people about him, or something like that."

Charles Lemoa.

Among those reported killed was a member of the church lay group, the Melanesian Brotherhood.

Fr Richard Naramana of the Church of Melanesia says they are also still trying confirm the deaths.