Ex-Rotorua policeman injured in PNG attack

Nick Bennett, pictured with partner Rowena Hardy.
Nick Bennett, pictured with partner Rowena Hardy.

A former Rotorua policeman has spoken of the moment he and a group of trekkers were attacked by bandits in Papua New Guinea.

Nick Bennett, who now lives in Queensland, where he is a prominent businessman, was among a group of Australian trekkers and local porters attacked at a remote village in PNG's northern Morobe province on Tuesday.

Two local porters were reportedly killed when bandits armed with knives and machetes attacked the group at Banis-Donki, about 200km north of Port Moresby.

Mr Bennett told Australia ABC News he had been in his tent when he heard a commotion outside.

"I heard a lot of shouting and I actually thought the boys had found an animal or something like that so there was a lot of excitement.

"I started to put my head out of the tent and I thought I'd been shot but what I realised was I'd actually been clubbed with a rifle barrel so was just bleeding immediately. I was just confused.''

He held his head in his hands as shouting continued around him.

"When I looked to my left I could see one of the guys just attacking porters with a bush knife. There was one guy with a rifle, one guy with a pipe gun and the bush knife.

"There was one person that appeared to be controlling it but they would just go back up to where the porters were and attack again and again.''

PNG Trekking Adventures boss Mark Hitchcock, whose company organised the trek, yesterday said the group had been on the first day of a six-day trek on on the Black Cat Track.

They had established a camp for the night at the village when they were attacked.

"They were held up and all their possessions were stolen.''

Mr Hitchcock said the incident was isolated, and local people were "deeply shocked'' by what had happened.

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has invoked the nation's death penalty in response to a brutal attack on an international group of trekkers.

The 61km Black Cat track, which runs from the Wau area to Salamaua in northern PNG, takes several days and is dotted with wartime wrecks

It is recommended only for very fit and experienced trekkers.

- APNZ

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 18 Sep 2014 01:44:41 Processing Time: 639ms