24 Mar 2004

Half of guns on PNG's Bougainville island reportedly destroyed

10:44 am on 24 March 2004

It is estimated that about half of the 2,000 weapons contained as part of the gun surrender programme on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville have now been destroyed.

The Peace Process Consultative Committee, which is made up of all the parties which negotiated the peace, reached a decision in December to destroy the guns - the last of the three stages to eliminate guns.

An Australian academic working with the PNG Government's Bougainville Office, Ted Wolfers, says while it is difficult to be precise, he thinks about half those guns have now been destroyed.

And he says in some areas the figures are even better.

"There are three districts of Bougainville where all the guns that have been contained have been destroyed, and I should perhaps say that although the decision was made last December to destroy, the factions didn't commit themselves to immediate destruction; they wanted to see progress on other fronts but in fact they have been destroying ahead of the timetable they set for themselves in many cases."