Church of Jesus Christ missionaries attacked, Police make arrests

Papua New Guinea police (P.N.G.) have arrested five men who attacked two Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (L.D.S.) missionaries, including a Samoan, in the town of Madang on the north coast of the country.

Richard Hunter, the New Zealand-based L.D.S. Pacific Area Director of Communication, told the Samoa Observer in an email reply that the kidnapping and assault occurred on the evening of October 11 as the two missionaries – a Tongan and a Samoan – were settling into their apartment for the night. 

“Following the incident, both young men were taken to the hospital and are expected to recover. Police have arrested five men accused of taking part in the attack. Thankfully, such incidents involving missionaries are rare. However, as a precaution, the missionaries have been moved from the area,” Mr. Hunter stated in his email.

“Thankfully, such incidents involving missionaries are rare. However, as a precaution, the missionaries have been moved from the area. We pray for the comfort and well-being of both missionaries and their families as they recover from this ordeal.”

The missionaries are recovering and not doing any interviews with the media, Mr Hunter added.

Attempts by this newspaper to verify the identity of the Samoan missionary were unsuccessful. However, a Tongan family living in Brisbane, Australia later posted a photo on Facebook that showed them posing for a photo with the Tongan missionary, Elder Kafoa.

The social media post by a Will Nasio on October 19 showed the couple with their four children sitting next to Elder Kafoa, who had his left hand heavily strapped in bandages.

“Meet Elder Kafoa, a stranger to us until today who grew up in Tonga and is currently serving an LDS mission in P.N.G. He is in Brisbane recovering from a home invasion while on the mission. He described it like a movie, it was crazy,” he posted.

“Four dudes kidnapped him and his Samoan companion in their own vehicle. Beat them up and had their lives threatened with rifles, shotguns and machetes. They were driven to a spot to be ridden of. He was asked three different times ‘do you have any last words’. Elder Kafoa would buy himself more time by saying he needs to disable the GPS so the police couldn’t track the vehicle. That saved his life.”

Attempts by this newspaper to contact the Police in Madang for a comment as well as an update on the suspects’ prosecution were not successful.

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