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Western Solomons People Become Targets In Honiara

© By Duran Angiki USP journalism graduate

GIZO, Solomon Is (Wantok Press): Criminal members of the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) have harassed people from the Western Solomons and looted their property in the Solomon Islands’ capital, Honiara.

The new development has added a fresh twist into the 19-month ethnic conflict between ethnic militia of Guadalcanal and neighboring Malaita Province.

Since the militia of both provinces, the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) and Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM) engaged in the conflict, criminal activities were targeted against people of each ethnic group.

However, recent alleged hassling of ethnic Malaitans in the Western Solomons had sparked the new wave of revenged attacks in Honiara.

A senior police officer confirmed that criminals had used the situation in the Western Province to legitimate their criminal activities.

Since last week, properties of people from the Western Solomons in Honiara had been targeted and ransacked by MEF criminals.

Last weekend, more than 10 people, including the country’s only eye-specialist doctor, Dr John Szetu, were held at gun points and stripped of their properties at different locations in Honiara.

He said some of the people who carried out the looting were hard-core criminals whom the MEF Joint Paramilitary Police released after the June 5 coup.

Police confirmed that many professionals from the Western Solomons had been victimized in the recent attacks and they now fled Honiara.

A senior public servant, whose vehicle and two houses were seized and ransacked, said the MEF leader Andrew Nori had been well aware of the daily looting.

The victim said following the seizing of his properties, he immediately informed the MEF leader (Nori) but nothing has been done about it.

“All our family properties had been stripped down to the ground.

Another victim also related how helpless he was when MEF seized his house over the weekend.

“I’m feeling very vulnerable, desperate and helpless.

“You can’t trust this people any more because they are the perpetrators but they often pretend about it.

He said he initially seek protection from the MEF leadership after ethnic Malaitans seized his vehicle three weeks ago.

“I don’t know whom to trust now’.”

The MEF during that time pledged to protect his property but now the very people who had promised to protect him had broken into his house, he added.

A tertiary schoolteacher whose van was also stolen, but later returned because he married a woman of ethnic Malaitan, said the biggest threat for Westerners in Honiara was ‘criminal intrusion.’

“We are all vulnerable and helpless because MEF criminals are going around and intruding private properties under strong armed guards.”

Following the recent escalation of looting in Honiara, it forces many people from Western Solomons to shift their properties down to the new state.

Last night, the MV Marthalina and Alcol, arrived in the state town of Gizo, delivering trucks, cars, canoes, outboard engines and many household goods.

Ends

niusedita@pactok.net.au http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/nius/index.html

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