The Governor of the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville says he has asked provincial officials to verify reports that a high-profile ally of separatist leader Francis Ona is dead.
It is rumoured in Arawa that Noah Musingku, who is wanted by PNG police in connection with a failed pyramid scheme, has been beaten up and possibly died in a confrontation in Ona's no-go zone.
The Bougainville Governor, John Momis, says there's been a split between Ona and his closest allies, including Musingku.
And he says if Musingku is dead, it could mark the beginning of the end of the no go zone.
"I think the fact that there is a split between the different factions of the Mekamui leadership including Noah Musingku, will just strengthen the legitmate call and the demand on the government to provide services, and I think it's just a matter of time before the Mekamui structure is dismantled."