24 Nov 2003

Police commander in Bougainville concerned for the safety of unarmed officers

2:05 pm on 24 November 2003

The Provincial Police Commander for the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville says he worries about the safety of his police, who are not allowed to carry guns.

Joseph Bemu says law and order in Buka, the administrative centre for Bougainville, is generally good ... although there have been two particularly violent incidents recently.

In one of these, a 14-year-old girl was raped and murdered and the key suspect later severely injured by relatives.

Mr Bemu says the man is still seriously ill in hospital but will be interviewed by police as soon as possible.

And he says police are investigating an armed holdup in the town over the last few days.

Mr Bemu says his officers have law and order under control, but he worries about the safety of the police who, under the terms of a peace accord, are not armed.

"If an armed confrontation arises, then police need to protect each other , to deal with the situation ..I mean not to carry it every day, any firearm, but if an armed confrontation comes we need to be able to deal with the situation. That's the only concern I have."