27 Jun 2002

Solomons police cannot confirm minister's claim that 11 men killed on Guadalcanal

6:05 pm on 27 June 2002

Solomon Islands police say they cannot confirm a statement by the police minister that 11 people were killed earlier this month in a failed attempt to capture the leader of the Guadalcanal Liberation Front, Harold Keke.

A spokesperson for the police, which have been investigating the incident on the Guadalcanal weathercoast , says they have nothing to add to their statement that 11 men are missing.

Solomon Islands radio quotes a spokesman for Keke as saying ten men who went from Honiara to the weathercoast in a speed craft and armed with weapons were interrogated by Keke and later killed.

The spokesman, Onesmus Tovoa, says an eleventh person was from Keke's camp and was shot dead by the group as they approached the Front stronghold.

The spokesman claims the gunmen were promised tens of thousands of US dollars each for catching Harold Keke.

It is not known who the men were and on whose instruction they acted.

But the police minister is adamant that the alleged plot to capture Keke had nothing to do with the government.

The minister says the men wanted to get Keke and then ask the government to pay them money.

The Guadalcanal Liberation Front has not signed the Townsville Peave Agreement which ended the ethnic conflict on the island in 2000.