SYDNEY, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Papua New Guinean government has undertaken an ambitious gun and assault weapon buy back scheme, trying to reduce the number of illegal firearms owned by their citizens.
The move, announced by Papua New Guinea's Assistant Police Commissioner Rafael Haufalo on Tuesday, came as tension between the government and landowners increased in the Hela province over a long-term dispute concerning allegedly unpaid LNG royalties.
According to PNG Post Courier, Haufalo urged the people of Hela to surrender their factory-made weapons and assault rifles to any police officer or soldier without prosecution, and gave assurances this is a fully backed government scheme.
"The government of Papua New Guinea has made a commitment to buy off factory-made guns that are now in the hands of the people," Haufalo said.
Police and soldiers will not arrest those who surrender guns, but if security forces recoup factory-made guns in one's possession during operations, he will be arrested and charged, Haufalo said.
Some 300 military and policy personnel were deployed in the Hela province on Monday following months of tribal fightings and the stock piling of assault weapons there.
Radio New Zealand reported that villagers have high powered paramilitary weaponry, including M16s and AR15s, as well as home-made guns.