PNG tribesman attacks New Zealander with arrows

29th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

A tribesman in the remote jungles of Papua New Guinea shot and badly wounded a young New Zealander with arrows and also attacked his terrified French girlfriend, an aid group said Wednesday.

The pair were bathing in a river in the Nomad area of Papua New Guinea's Western Province when the young man, an anthropologist who was working in the area, went to retrieve his towel and was hit by the arrows.

"There was an arrow in his ribs and one in his stomach," Delene Evans, the general manager of Australian Doctors International, whose volunteer medics helped save the man, told AFP.

"The attacker also hit him on the head with a rock."

Evans said the French woman was also assaulted during the June 19 attack but was able to radio for help, prompting a missionary air service to send a small plane to urgently evacuate the couple to the nearest hospital, in Kiunga.

They were treated by Sydney couple doctor Josette Docherty and her medic partner Allan Mason, who donated a unit of his own blood to the deathly pale victim, who had lost 1.5 litres of blood.

In her report on the incident, Docherty said the three-hour emergency surgery revealed that one of the arrows had pierced through the man's stomach and stopped just short of the aorta.

She said the attack was "an extremely unfortunate and rare incident" in impoverished PNG, where doctors are in short supply and communicable diseases such as pneumonia, malaria and tuberculosis take a deadly toll.

"Australian Doctors International has been working in Western Province of PNG for nine years and this is the first time we have encountered such an incident," the volunteer doctor said.

"Generally, we find the people there warm, hospitable and proud to share their culture with foreigners."

Docherty organised for the couple to be medically evacuated to Australia, and they arrived at Cairns Base Hospital's emergency ward last week.

Queensland Health said that two people, a New Zealand man and a French woman, were airlifted to Cairns Base Hospital from Papua New Guinea this week and both had since been discharged.

Papua New Guinea faces extreme development challenges and some tribes hold to the traditional way of life, including the use of bows, arrows and spears.

© 2011 AFP

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