Police drone captured by Bougaivilleans in border ‘sea drama’

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A RSIPF drone has been captured by Bougainvilleans yesterday morning in a standoff with SI police officers in what is described as intimidation by the foreigners.

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The capture of the drone happened early in the morning before the Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare visited the border. However police say the PM’s security was never an issue.

Police say around 30 Bougainvilleans in about eight boats came face to face with just only four officers and challenged them for a fight, showing axes, knives, spears and spear-guns forcing RSIPF officers to retreat.

It started when a RSIPF patrol sighted a canoe in the Solomon Islands territory and kindly approached them to turn back into PNG waters.

Initially, RSIPF officers sighted a yahama boat powered by 15-powered engine in SI waters and in attempt to turn them back others joined to gang up against the lone RSIPF boat.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Ian Vaevaso said the Bougainvilleans had began to talk to each other as other boats joined them. He adds their movements and actions were suspicious to the RSIPF.

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He said on seeing this, the RSIPF team leader advised that they used the drone to see if they had any illegal weapons in their boats.

“So they deployed the drone and as soon as they see that the Bougainvilleans have become very violent. They were very aggressive and started to intimidate our officers with bush knives, axes and, spears and spear-guns. It was during that time that the drone was out of control and captured by the Bougainvilleans,” he said.

SBMOnline understands that the drone was on its way to land on the RSIPF boat but one of the officers was unable to safely land it in the boat, as there is no land base on the boat. It then re-programmed and flew out. It was on its second time round to land on the boat that one of the Bougainvilleans whipped it with a paddle forcing it to land in the sea and they captured it.

After capturing the drone the Bougainvilleans around 80 of them intimidated the RSIPF officers who then retreated called for reinforcement before the Papua New Guineans retreated.

Vaevaso said they would be asking the PNG government for the safe return of the drone as it is the property of the government of Solomon Islands.

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