Rain has delayed Vanuatu police action against village violence
Vanuatu police later this week intend arresting a number of people after inter-village violence.
Vanuatu police later this week expect to get reinforcements into Lamap village on the south of Malekula Island after a series of violent clashes with the people of nearby Avok Island.
The northern police commander, deputy commissioner Samuel Pakoa, says the violence began with one villager being killed, prompting villagers to burn the houses on Avok Island and assault one person in retaliation.
He says they sent a police team to the area, but with the whole community involved they had to withdraw until reinforcements could be sent from Luganville. Deputy commissioner Pakoa told Don Wiseman the weather has delayed their arrival.
SAMUEL PAKOA: We should have sent them last week, but then we didn't manage to get our officers from Lakatoro up to Lamap, because of the rivers that they have to cross and because of the bad weather that we have at the moment. Our vehicles were not able to cross the rivers so we're still waiting for them to go up to Lamap again before I can send a small patrol boat up there to move the suspects up to Santo.
DON WISEMAN: We're talking one suspect or a number?
SP: A number. More than 20 suspects. So we can't get them to the nearest police station because they don't have enough holding jails. So we have to move them up to Luganville, Santo.
DW: When you say that a man admitted killing someone in a neighbouring village, there are also allegations of witchcraft.
SP: Yes, there were allegations of witchcraft. That's why we have to send officers from Lakatoro to investigate the whole issue before we send enforcement up there to arrest the suspects and move them up to Santo.
DW: In terms of the houses destroyed on Avok Island, they were traditional houses, I guess.
SP: Yes, most of these houses damaged were traditional houses.
DW: And a lot of people effectively homeless as a result.
SP: Not really people homeless because they have other families around that support them. I don't think there are people homeless up there.
DW: Police are confident that they can control this? You've obviously got a large number of upset people there, if you're talking about arresting more than 20.
SP: Yes, we've already sent some officers up there. They're already controlling the situation. After the incident officers went up there to control the situation. It's just a matter of getting the suspects out of the area to go through court proceedings.
DW: In terms of getting there, as you say the rivers are swollen. It will still be a number of days before you manage to get in.
SP: Yes, it depends when the rivers go down then we can get our boys from Lakatoro. Across the river to Lamap, then we can send the reinforcements down.
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