3 Jun 2003

Solomons police to evacuate more villagers from the Weather Coast

5:34 pm on 3 June 2003

The Solomon Islands police are planning a second evacuation of people from the Weather Coast but are refusing to say whether they will launch an operation to capture rebel leader Harold Keke.

Around 80 people have been evacuated from areas controlled by Keke already and the police spokesman, Charles Lemoa says arrangements are being made to bring more people to Honiara.

The evacuees are being cared for by the Red Cross and other organisations.

Harold Keke and his group has been blamed for dozens of recents deaths and is holding 6 members of the Melanesian Brotherhood hostage.

Mr Lemoa says people are being brought to Honiara for safety against possible clashes between police and Keke.

"If an operational plan is in place I can't say exactly but the main reason now why the police are trying to evacuate the people, is that if there is an operational plan to be to be put in place, then the place at least must be cleared, before police can actually get in"

Mr Lemoa says three police are currently stationed at the Weather Coast and are monitoring Keke's activities.