ANDREW ALPHONSE reports for the Post Courier (11/08/2011) ...
TWO expatriate employees were yesterday attacked by an angry machete-wielding landowner at Komo in the Southern Highlands province.
The two employees of Philippine and Arab origins, are attached with international contractor McMillan Clough Curtain Joint Venture (MCCJV) that is contracted by PNG LNG project developer ExxonMobil to develop and construct the Komo LNG international airfield.
Police mobile squad attached with the LNG security operations said from Komo yesterday that the incident happened at about midday at the construction site of the proposed Komo airport runway at Mikili village.
Police said a landowner, frustrated at being overlooked for employment and the unequal distribution of money paid earlier this week for damages to the environment, picked up a bush-knife and chopped the Filipino in the head while the Arab employee was slashed on his arm.
Both were rushed to Port Moresby and are likely to be evacuated to Australia for further medical attention. Police said the incident has forced all early works on the LNG airfield and the neighbouring Hides LNG conditioning plant site, Hides Well Pad A camp, access and overhaul road, landfill, quarry and the proposed Yuni LNG Technical College in the Hela province to a complete standstill as of midday yesterday.
Police said ExxonMobil ordered a stop-work and gathered all its 9800 national and expatriate employees behind closed gates at the Pioneer Camp at Komo while police and security guards kept the area under heavy surveillance for fear of further attacks by the locals.
The same situation was reported at Hides 4 conditioning plant site.
Deputy Komo LLG president and chairman of Hiwa Corporations Peter Pureni yesterday called on Prime Minister Peter O'Neill to look at beefing up police presence in Tari and Komo and provide them with adequate logistical support to quell the law and order problems in order for the project to progress smoothly.
An MCCJV employee confirmed that the attack has sent fear and anxiety among the workmen after a Western Highlander was killed in another attack by the Komo man early this year.