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Kiwi in PNG hacking insists locals are 'gentle

Staff Reporter 9/12/2013 | | |
Nick Bennett was attacked by bandits in Papua New Guinea. - Source: ONE News
A New Zealand man caught up in a vicious attack in Papua New Guinea on Tuesday is urging people not to be discouraged from visiting the country.

Nick Bennett, a former New Zealand police officer, was part of an Australian camping group that was ambushed by bandits on the Black Cat track in PNG's Morobe Province.

Two local porters were hacked to death, while others received wounds, including an Australian whose arm was slashed and another who was speared in the leg with a walking pole.

Mr Bennett, who suffered a head injury in the attack, said he was concerned the incident would have a negative impact on PNG's reputation as a tourist destination.

"We were fortunate, our injuries will heal. But the damage has been done to those porters, their families, and the tourism industry in PNG.

"Without the economy these tours bring through those regions, there's not a lot to sustain those villages."

Mr Bennett said the shocking incident did not reflect the nature of the PNG people.

"I just want to urge people that this is an amazing country. The people are beautiful, they are gentle.

"This is an anomaly, it is not normal, this is just butchers at work."

Mr Bennett said he and the rest of the camping group had planned to set up a trust fund for the PNG villagers to help them through the consequences of the attack.I couldn't believe what was happening'

The camping group had just set up shelter, around five hours walk from the nearest village, when the attack happened, Mr Bennett said.

"I put my head out of the tent, and I was clubbed with force - someone used a barrel of a rifle like a club - splitting my scalp and stunning me.

"I couldn't believe what was happening. I looked to my left and I could see, about 20 feet away, one of the guys with a bush knife just hacking into the porters."

The attack lasted around 20 minutes, Mr Bennett said, and the bandits were demanding money.

"We gave them the money we had, and they eventually left, leaving the chaos and bloodshed behind them."

Those with minor injuries raised the alarm, and the seriously injured and dead were later airlifted from the scene.

Police and local villagers are still tracking the attackers, which PNG prime minister Peter O'Neill said deserved the death penalty.


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