SIX armed men used members of a Korean family they had just robbed as hostages after police confronted them.
The thugs were forced to take the family out to sea in a dinghy when police officers on Misima island east of Alotau, Milne Bay, were alerted of the early morning robbery.
Assistant Police Commissioner Allan Kundi of the Southern Region command centre said the drama began at 6am when the armed thugs broke into the family home.
They drove the family comprising shopowner Kim Sew-yi, his wife, children and the babysitter to the shop in the family car and ordered them to hand over the cash there.
Kundi said the six men were armed with guns.
“They demanded that the store owner Kim give them money before they would release them,” he said.
“In the process, the suspects took K1,600, a laptop valued at K4,000, mobile phones valued at K1,500, a galaxy tablet computer valued at K2,000, flex cards valued at K3,000 and clothes belonging to the children.”
He said while the men were looting the family shop, police arrived.
“Police intercepted and there was an exchange of gunfire. The suspects then used the family including their baby-sitter as human shields and escaped with them in a waiting dinghy and sped off into the open sea,” he said.
Kundi said police chased after them in another boat, mv Twonahs. The family members, minus Kim, were dropped off at a village called Alhoga on Misima.
The thugs and Kim proceeded to another small island called Paneati to the south where they dropped him off and escaped, he said.
Kim was picked up by local fishermen and dropped back at Misima.
Kundi said it was fortunate that the family members were not harmed during the ordeal.
Police are investigating the case and hope to make arrests soon.
“I would like to appeal to the community and people living around the nearby islands and Misima to assist police with the investigations and report any sightings of them to authorities.”
Kundi advised authorities in each province to prepare for such emergencies by providing vessels and manpower. The National