Update: Ex-Rotorua policeman injured in horror PNG attack

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

A former Rotorua policeman was injured in an attack on a group of trekkers in Papua New Guinea.

Nick Bennett, who grew up in Ford Block and went to Rotorua Boys' High School, has lived in Australia for 34 years.

The prominent Queensland businessman, who was once posted to NZ police diplomatic protection squad, was among a group of Australian trekkers and local porters who were 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.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) spokesman said Mr Bennett arrived in Port Moresby yesterday evening and was met by staff from the New Zealand High Commission.

Mr Bennett suffered minor injuries that did not require hospitalisation. He is due to return to Australia.

He was reported to have been injured to the head after being clubbed with the butt of a rifle.

Another report quoted his brother Stephen as saying they'd heard he had a head wound from a machete.

Mr Bennett is a prominent businessman in Mackay, Queensland.

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.

The trekkers 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 would not comment on the nature of the injuries the tourists suffered, but said: "It was nothing major or life threatening."

His company had arranged for locals, medics and security officials to meet the trekkers as they walked back from the village.

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.

Mr O'Neill has condemned "in the strongest possible terms" the murder of two porters by bandits and their attack on Australian and New Zealand trekkers on the Black Cat trail in Morobe Province.

Papua New Guinea police condemned the violent attack and issued a stern warning to the culprits.

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.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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