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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Spears, machetes and guns in daring POW rescue | Stuff

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In order to rescue five prisoners of war, a tiny New Zealand Defense Force detachment landed on the gloomy, sandy coasts of southwest Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, 25 years ago. 

Colonel Rob Hitchings, who is now retired, was present and offers his reflections on the operation’s course and its contribution to the region’s much larger peace effort. Despite being unarmed, the detachment members were outfitted with custom-made bulletproof jackets for the mission. A mile offshore, the HMNZS Canterbury, a sizable gray New Zealand frigate, stood guard and prepared to offer assistance if necessary. Thursday, July 24, 1997, was the date. Five people were still alive because it was thought that these cops’ conduct was above reproach. The BRA had been holding the survivors as captives since since the slaughter at Kangu Beach. Technically, they were regarded as prisoners of war (POWs).The first negotiations for peace between the Bougainvillean factions had taken place at Burnham Military Camp in New Zealand in early July 1997 before the rescue effort. Elections in Papua New Guinea had recently been completed, with Bill Skate becoming prime minister.



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