PNG suspects held by villagers

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 21:26 15/09/2013
Nick Benett
The National
IN HARM'S WAY: New Zealander Nick Bennett.

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Four men suspected in the ambush and  murder of two guides leading a group of Australasian trekkers in  Papua New Guinea have been captured by villagers, police say.

The four were captured on Sunday morning near the town of Wau, a  five-and-a-half-hour walk from the Black Cat Track in PNG's Morobe  province, where local guides Kuia Kerry and Matthew Lasong were  killed when they were attacked by six armed men.

Several Australians, one New Zealander, and six PNG men were injured in the attack.

Police said on Sunday one suspect was caught in the town of  Salamaua while the other three were caught in Wau.

''I believe it is only a matter of time before the other two are  captured and brought in,'' Police Commissioner Tom Kulunga said in a  statement.

''Whilst I encourage the local community to continue to assist  police capture the remaining attackers, I urge you not to take the  law into your own hands.

''Let the law deal with them.''

Kulunga also confirmed reports a man was attacked and killed  by relatives of one of the two murdered porters.

He said the relatives accused the man of harbouring the six  criminals and attacked him.

Police intervened and flew him to the nearest health centre but  he died from loss of blood.

''There will be an investigation and the persons responsible for  this recent death will be arrested. No one has the right to take  anyone's life,'' Kulunga said.

Police have sent 30 additional personnel to the area to capture  the remaining fugitives.

''The commitment of the villagers in helping police bring in the  four suspects speaks volumes for our people's genuineness and  hospitality as well,'' he said.

''The attack was an isolated and one-off incident and not a  reflection of the generally friendly people of the Morobe  Province.''

Meanwhile the survivors of Tuesday's machete attack have set up  a trust fund for the local porters who were injured in the ambush.

Nick Bennett, a former policeman from Rotorua, was injured when he was hit on the head  with a gun.

On Sunday, he told ABC radio all the trekkers had returned home  and were coming to terms with the horrific experience.

But he says while the trekkers are traumatised, their injuries  are insignificant compared with what had happened to the porters,  some of whom had limbs hacked off and would never walk again.

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''We've set up a trust fund and we're asking people ... just to  provide a few dollars into an account that we've got set up to help  them get the services that they need,'' he said.

''We've made a commitment to ensuring that we support those  porters and their families who've absolutely been devastated by  this.

''We really need help and we're appealing to people to be  generous. Anything - a peso, a dollar, a pound - would be helpful  right now for these guys.''  

- Stuff

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