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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2007, 14:43 GMT
Policeman hijacks payroll plane
Aussie pilots - Photo credit PNG Post-Courier/Port Moresby police media unit
The two Australian pilots were rescued
Police in Papua New Guinea have shot dead one of their own reservists after he hijacked a plane carrying nearly $2m he was meant to be guarding.

Two other alleged robbers were caught, and another two are being sought. Most of the money - payroll cash for a mine in Western province - has been found.

The two Australian pilots flying the money were found handcuffed to a tree in a mangrove swamp, but safe.

The authorities were alerted by an emergency signal from the plane.

Escorts pulled guns

The drama began on Monday when the pilots set out in a light plane from the capital, Port Moresby.

Minutes into the journey, the two armed escorts - both police reservists - pulled their guns on the pilots and forced them to land on a nearby island.

Three other men were waiting for them. The five then reportedly set off in a getaway boat for the mainland, leaving the pilots handcuffed to a mangrove tree.

But police had already begun a huge sweep after air controllers noticed the plane had left its flight path. It also sent out an emergency signal.

In the manhunt, police shot dead one of the armed men and captured the second, who is said to be the brains behind the plot.

A third man was also caught, leaving two at large. They are being hunted by more than 100 police.

"My men are searching the hillsides and mangroves," said police commissioner Gari Baki. "It is only a matter of time before the other two are captured."

SEE ALSO
Country profile: Papua New Guinea
14 Aug 07 |  Country profiles
'Dozens killed' in PNG flooding
19 Nov 07 |  Asia-Pacific

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