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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 August 2007, 12:35 GMT 13:35 UK
PNG 'sorry' for cannibal killings
The descendants of cannibals in Papua New Guinea, who killed and ate four Fijian missionaries in 1878, have said sorry for their forefathers' actions.

They held a ceremony of reconciliation, attended by thousands, in the East New Britain province where the four died.

The missionaries were part of a group of Methodist ministers and teachers who arrived in 1875 to spread Christianity.

Their murder three years later, by the Tolai tribespeople on the Gazelle Peninsula, sparked angry reprisals.

The head of the mission, English pastor George Brown, avenged the killings by taking part in an expedition that resulted in the deaths of a number of tribespeople and the torching of several villages.

Ten commandments

Candles were lit in remembrance of the four killed missionaries as thousands attended the ceremony in East New Britain.

Fiji's High Commissioner in PNG, Ratu Isoa Tikoca, accepted the apologies on behalf of the descendants.

"We at this juncture are deeply touched and wish you the greatest joy of forgiveness as we finally end this record disagreement," he said.

PNG's Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane praised the early missionaries for making the country Christian - and called for more people to follow its guiding principles.

"I wish many people could follow the 10 commandments, but they still steal today and commit adultery," he said.

"There is a big increase in HIV/Aids cases in the country because of adultery, despite knowing it's wrong."

Timeline: Papua New Guinea
14 Aug 07 |  Country profiles
Country profile: Papua New Guinea
14 Aug 07 |  Country profiles

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