8 Nov 2004

Police in Kiribati hold seven after village dispute leaves one dead

7:24 am on 8 November 2004

Police in Kiribati are holding up to seven men in connection with a deadly riot.

One man was killed and six houses burnt down when a dispute erupted in the of Temanokunuea on the island of Butaritari.

Twenty police officers arrived on a patrol boat, and fired shots to establish order.

The leaders of the two main churches in the country have travelled to the island to try to calm the situation.

The editor of Radio Kiribati, Roz Terubea, who was also on the trip, says 30 people, including council elders, have been questioned by police.

"Since the arrival of the government's team headed by the bishop - the Catholic bishop - and the Protestant moderator, all of the elders have been freed, after completion of interrogation and investigation by the crime unit of the police service in Kiribati. There are about six to seven men still being held in jail on the island of Butaritari by police."

Mr Terubea says the country hasn't seen such unrest since independence.