15 Oct 2002

Seven die in attempt to capture rebel leader in Solomons

7:07 pm on 15 October 2002

Solomon Islands police says they have been told seven people have been killed in a campaign to try and capture rebel warlord Harold Keke, but they have yet to confirm the report.

The dead are said to include six members of Mr Keke's Guadalcanal Liberation Army.

Deputy Commissioner John Homelo says that is the report from a combined police and civilian team which confronted Mr Keke on Guadalcanal's Weathercoast last week, but they are still seeking independent confirmation.

Joseph Baetolingia, the Assistant Commissioner of Police Operations says the initiative for the campaign came from Guadalcanal civilians.

Harold Keke, who has refused to join the peace process on Guadalcanal, is held responsible for more than 20 deaths on the Weather Coast in recent months.

These include the massacre of 10 Malaitan men who had reportedly gone to the Weather Coast to try and capture Mr Keke, and the assassination of Cabinet Minister Fr Augustine Geve.