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Savage attack on Aussie trekkers batters PNG image

September 13, 2013 DESTINATION, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Papua New Guinea’s tourism potential has taken another jump backwards after a gang of armed robbers launched a deadly attack a group of Australian and New Zealand trekking tourists.

The gang, who reportedly used ‘bush knife’ machetes to hack to death two of the group’s porters, struck on the Black Cat Track, one of PNG’s most popular treks after the Kokoda Track.

The group included seven Australians and a New Zealander, ABC News reported. TAT-www.thailand.net.au

They had set up camp on the Black Cat Track in Morobe Province when the bandits, wielding machetes, bush knives, spears and guns, struck without warning.

As well as the deaths, the attackers injured four of the trekkers and seven local porters. They suffered mainly bruises and cuts.

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has warned trekkers to avoid the Black Cat Track until local police have finished investigating the incident.

The injured Australians were being flown to Port Moresby for treatment yesterday.

The ABC quoted Mark Hitchcock, a spokesman for tour operator PNG Trekking Adventures, saying the attack was “an isolated incident that shocked us all. Totally out of character for the track.”

Hitchcock added it was the first trouble the company had ever encountered on any track in PNG.

PNG’s unspoilt mountains, rivers and forest draw trekkers, birdwatchers and adventure travellers from around the world.

Violent crime, however, prevents the country from achieving its full potential, as a tourist destination and otherwise. Negative publicity stemming from random attacks and rapes deter uncounted thousands of tourists who would otherwise head there.

Four months ago, police arrested four men in connection with the rape of an American woman tourist in Madang province. The woman, a US academic, was walking in bushland with her husband and a guide on remote Karkar island when nine men armed with rifles and knives attacked and robbed them and gang-raped her.

That attack came a week after intruders broke into the home of an Australian man in the PNG highlands, murdered him and gang-raped a female house-guest who was staying there.

DFAT makes some pretty hair-raising points about PNG in its travel advisory.

“Crime is random and particularly prevalent in urban areas such as Port Moresby, Lae and Mt Hagen. Settlement areas of towns and cities are particularly dangerous. ‘Bush knives’ (machetes) and firearms are often used in assaults and thefts. Carjackings, assaults (including sexual assaults), bag snatching and robberies are common.”

DFAT also warns of violent ethnic disputes, a general atmosphere of lawlessness and an associated increase in opportunistic crime.

“Car-jacking is an ever-present threat, particularly in Port Moresby and Lae. Car doors should be locked with windows up at all times and caution should be taken when travelling after dark. In the evening or at night, we recommend you travel in a convoy.

“Due to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.”

Many in PNG have had about enough of such crimes. In May, shortly after the gang rape of the US academic, PNG lawmakers voted to introduce the death penalty for crimes such as rape, robbery and sorcery-related murder, and to give Parliament the choice of execution methods, including the firing squad and the electric chair.

Written by : Peter Needham

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