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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

PNG Ship Raided By Pirates Hidden Among Passengers
One man arrested after being recognized by official

By Oseah Philemon

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 28, 2012) – In Papua New Guinea, the Lutheran Shipping passenger vessel MV Geamsao was held up by 18 armed men between Lae and Finschhafen at noon yesterday in a dramatic crime that has shocked both the crew and passengers.

The president of Finschhafen local level government Manasseh Laina and consulting civil engineer Giuwa Tiaga who is in charge of the disaster restoration program for the damaged Mape Bridge in Finschhafen were among the more than 150 passengers on board MV Geamsao when it was held up.

The two men said the ship had overnighted in Finschhafen on Monday night and was returning to Lae on its normal run when the attack took place between Yambo village and Gilu Point at a place also known as Cape O’Conner.

Mr. Laina and Mr. Tiaga said the attackers had earlier boarded the ship with the rest of the passengers at Buki in Finschhafen.

It was a well planned and executed operation where the pirates had an outboard motor dinghy waiting for the ship at the point of the attack.

There was only one person — the operator in the dinghy — and as soon as the Geamsao stopped it sped towards it.

At that time the criminals on board pulled out their weapons and held up the captain and crew, passengers in the VIP section and those in the general passenger section.

They robbed the passengers of all their monies and personal belongings.

They also robbed the ship of passenger takings and monies from the Lutheran Shipping operations in Finschhafen.

Also on board was the manager of a shop owned by the family of the National Parliament Speaker Theo Zurenuoc and a Chinese businessman who were on their way to Lae to deposit the takings from their trade stores.

The manager of Sifuyu Trading which is owned by Mr. Zurenuoc’s family and the Chinese shop known as Mando Trading lost an unspecified amount of money in the attack.

Both men were severely beaten up and robbed.

Mr. Tiaga said he lost a laptop, compass and survey equipment, a digital camera, very important documents concerning Mape Bridge and disaster in Finschhafen area, all valued at over K10,000 [US$4,797].

Mr. Laina who was travelling to Port Moresby to meet with the Speaker on projects in his electorate said he lost K3,000 [US$1,439] in cash, his bank card and all his personal belongings.

He has cancelled his trip to Port Moresby and is now looking for money to return home.

Mr. Laina recognized the operator of the dinghy whom he said is the son of a councilor from the Jabem Mape local level government.

Immediately after the attack he telephoned Finschhafen police who went to the Mape Bridge and waited for the dinghy.

The councilor’s son was the only one on board and was immediately arrested and is now in police custody for questioning.

After robbing the Geamsao and its passengers and crew the dinghy headed towards Lae.

A short time later it changed course and headed towards Finschhafen with the operator the only passenger on board.

PNG Post-Courier:
Copyright 2012 PNG Post-Courier. All Rights Reserved.

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