Rebels astir in new Pacific nation
Vila, Vanuatu — An unidentified yacht landed a cargo believed to be arms on the rebel island of Espiritu Santo in the newly independent South Pacific nation of Vanuatu, a government spokesman said Tuesday.
In the last few days the rebels have dynamited two major bridges and burned down two buildings at an agricultural school. They are backed by armed French settlers and the Phoenix Foundation, a right-wing US organization wanting to establish a tax-free haven on an independent Santo.
Britain and France, the two outgoing colonial powers, sent 200 troops to Santo 12 days before to try to end a two-month secessionist rebellion. But despite their continuing presence the situation has deteriorated seriously since Vanuatu, the former New Hebrides, gained independence last week. More than 40 armed riot police, backed by other policemen, flew to Santo Tuesday as the Vanuatu government tried to extend its authority on the island.
Papua New Guinea's parliament met Tuesday to vote on a decision to send up to 300 troops to help the government, which won a United Nations-sponsored election last November and is strongly backed by Pacific nations.