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FIJI: Scavengers attack journalists at dump

SUVA (PMW): Scavengers at the rubbish dump of Fiji's capital of Suva have stoned and attacked journalists reporting on the economic and social consequences of the Pacific country's three-week-old political crisis, according to a newspaper report.

The Fiji Sun reported in a front-page story in its 9 June 2000 edition that scavengers at Lami rubbish dump were collecting disposed of meat for food. A picture published showed the scavengers collecting packs of spoiled New Zealand lamb.

"They became angry when they saw journalists taking pictures and noting down their activities and chased journos," said the Fiji Sun.

"Three journalists, two overseas and one local, ran for their lives yesterday when they tried to take shots of the scavengers.

"Stones were hurled at them. They had to swim across a nearby stream to spare them from the group.

"One photographer said the scavengers 'were actually eating rubbish disposed at the dump'," the newspaper reported.

"'I also overheard them say that they could just heat up the meat and cook it,' the photographer said. 'It was the filthiest thing that I have ever seen.

"'There was a dog there but instead of giving the meat to the animal, they packed it up to take home.'"

The scavening happened just one day after an 11-year-old boy was accidentally crushed to death by a bulldozer as he was collecting refuse.

The Suva City Council yesterday issued a warning to the public who continued to scavenge in defiance of provisions in the Health Act.

* On May 19, rebel leader George Speight and gunmen seized elected Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and his government prisoner and have held them hostage in Parliament ever since. Fiji is currently under martial law and economic hardships are mounting daily.

+++niuswire

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