7 Feb 2014

Police in Vanuatu make arrests following burning of village

2:57 pm on 7 February 2014

The police in Vanuatu have arrested up to 10 men after a dispute over land left hundreds of villagers on the island of Malekula frightened and homeless .

The police chief of staff, Ron Tamtam, says a group of men armed with rifles arrived at Malua Bay on January the 28th and fired shots into the air before burning down villagers' homes.

Mr Tamtam says locals were extremely frightened and ran into the bush, where some of them may still be in hiding.

He is waiting to confirm further details but understands about 50 homes have been burnt to the ground.

"It is very scary and you know we cannot tolerate this kind of criminal activity so we are starting to take a different level of approach to make sure these kinds of incidents do not reoccur."

Ron Tamtam says the police were initially unable to reach the area because of flooding.