15 Oct 2003

Papua New Guinea villagers angry over gold search

5:06 pm on 15 October 2003

Villagers in Papua New Guinea's New Ireland province are reported to be angry over the dynamiting of hillsides in a search by outsiders looking for gold.

Troops and police have imposed a 5pm to 6am curfew in the villages of Malili, Messi, Dampet and Danu for the past two weeks.

The New Ireland provincial government is yet to release any of the findings by its administration team which investigated the rumoured stash of gold in the region.

The deputy governor, Gersson Rabana, says he's unsure if there is gold in the area.

"I can't really tell you what the fact is. I'm not sure myself. The security force are there now, yes, but the brief we got from Moresby, they are there to provide security from left over ammunition from World War 2, which could cause explosions if people happen to go there and dig with the understanding they've got gold in there."

Mr Rabana says teams were sent to the area to find out what is going on.

He says he's waiting for a briefing from officials who have visited the site but remains concerned about people living there because he's unsure about their conditions.