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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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

Destructive Arson Attacks Reported In Marquesas
Traditional buildings, double-hulled canoe targeted

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Jan. 31, 2013) – Police in French Polynesia are investigating a series of arson attacks on Nuku Hiva, in the Marquesas Islands.

Nuku Hiva's Deputy Mayor, Deborah Kimitete, has told Pacific Beat four buildings and a large, double-hulled canoe have been burnt down.

"The first building – it's a shelter for our double canoe, [which] was built in honor of my husband, who was the Mayor in 2000 until 2002."

She said on the same night last week, a traditional house on an archaeological site in another village was set on fire.

Then on Sunday, another house on the same site was burned.

"So then we knew that it was not an accident, that it was criminal… And then [Thursday] morning at three o'clock, we had another house [fire] ... an archaeological site also in our main village. It burned out completely."

The buildings are used to host traditional events.

The gendarmerie (police) are investigating, Ms. Kimitete said, and they are also bringing in more officers from the main island of Tahiti.

She added that she does not know what possible motive the person could have for setting the fires.

"We're going to put people to survey and protect all our sites ... night and day for as long as, we don't know, when we're going to catch him."

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