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Papua New Guinea Says Rebels Control Barracks but Denies Mutiny Has Spread

The Associated Press
Published: Mar 12, 2002

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) - The Papua New Guinea government said Tuesday that mutinous soldiers controlled a remote military outpost, but denied reports that the rebellion had spread.
Between 30 to 50 soldiers who seized control of the Moem barracks in the town of Wewak, some 500 miles northeast of the capital Port Moresby, were still in control there Tuesday, a spokesman for Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta said.

The soldiers are reportedly protesting a plan by the government to fire some defense force personnel as part of a cost-cutting drive.

Speaking on customary condition of anonymity, the spokesman said soldiers at Igam barrack in the town of Lae, 155 miles north of Port Moresby, had not joined the mutiny but had expressed sympathy on the cost-cutting issue.

A large, but impoverished Pacific island state, Papua New Guinea has been plagued by political instability, corruption and lawlessness since it gained independence from its southern neighbor, Australia, in 1975.

AP-ES-03-12-02 0214EST



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