By Sylvester Wemuru in Port Moresby
The manhunt for the Papua New Guinean cult group along the Rai coast near Madang has been halted because of a lack of logistical support to continue the operation in Nankina Valley.
According to police officers who are part of the operation, they were flown back to Saidor Station where they will stay there and wait for instructions on whether to continue the operation.
Team leader Inspector Steven Yalamu said that so far they had done well, having rescued a family that was held hostage in a cult house in Nankina Valley.
Inspector Yalamu said they had also rescued a man who had his hand chopped off by cult members. He was airlifted to Madang to for further medical assistance.
Police also rescued another man who was on his way to meet the cult group to pay them some money.
The exchange did not take place because the parties heard a helicopter approaching. The man later explained to police what had happened.
Inspector Yalamu wants the operation to continue because the cult group is still active in the area, and it needs to be stopped.
Northern Command Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Peter Guinness stated earlier that the operation would need a helicopter to airlift policemen from one location to another because of the geography around the villages.
He said that if the police officers wanted to move from one village to another it would take them more than five hours on foot. By then the cult group would have moved to another location.
The Northern Mobile Group police officers were flown, free of charge, by Manalos Aviation to Mibu Village to help the Madang-based officer in the manhunt for the cult group.
Madang provincial police commander acting Superintendent Mazuc Rubiang also said that they needed the support to carry on the operation. He said the gang would continue its crimes if police withdrew.
“The villagers were in fear when the police arrived. If police leave, we are expecting something worse to happen because some threats (have) been sent to villagers who were accommodating the police,” Superintendent Rubang said.
“The missionaries were also threatened because they posted on the social media, which prompted police to go there.”
Sylvester Wemuru is a Loop PNG journalist.