7 Jun 2002

Former Solomon militants fearful after surrendering weapons

11:32 am on 7 June 2002

Former militants in Solomon Islands say they fear for their safety after surrendering their illegally held weapons to the authorities.

Members of the Isatabu Freedom Movement on Guadalcanal made the comment when they handed in 22 weapons to the international peace monitors yesterday - five days after the expiry of an amnesty for the return of weapons.

Many illegally held guns are still unaccounted for as George Atkin reports.

"The former militants who have been operating in the gold rich area of central Guadalcanal said they feared harrassment from the leader of the Guadalcanal Liberation Front, Harold Keke, and his men. They asked the government to guarantee their safety from Keke and his militants. But the chairman of the peace monitoring council, Paul Tovua, assured the former militants that it is the responsibility of the government and the police to ensure their safety. A spokesman for the coastal police post at Tetere assured the people of central Guadalcanal and former militants that his men and special constables serving as community police officers in the area would provide protection and security."