12 Sep 2013

Death penalty promise for PNG attack

11:10 pm on 12 September 2013

Papua New Guinea's prime minister is condemning a violent attack on a trekking group and says those responsible will face the death penalty.

Two local porters were hacked to death and a New Zealander and several Australian trekkers were injured in the assault on the Black Cat Track in the country's highlands on Tuesday.

The injured New Zealander is understood to be in a stable condition.

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill says he makes no apology for seeking the death penalty for what he calls an appalling crime.

He told the Papua New Guinea parliament he plans to introduce tourist police to protect visitors. He says police could accompany trekkers on their trips.

Mr O'Neill says tourism is a strong revenue earner for the country and Papua New Guinea has big potential.

However, New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is advising people to use caution if travelling to Papua New Guinea, saying there is some risk.

Police are describing the attack as shocking and unthinkable and say it was slaughter.

Superintendent Dominic Kakas says police are doing everything they can to capture the attackers, including using a helicopter in the search area. Local villagers have also joined the search.

The survivors of the attack are now back in Port Moresby.

A veteran trekker says the attack is not an isolated incident. Charlie Lynn, who has led military-history treks in Papua New Guinea for 20 years, says he has heard of other attacks.