Fishermen claim attack out at sea

The injured fishermen. from left, Abele Tubama, Mosese Mena and Taniela Baleisuva. Picture: FT FILE/SERAFINA SILAITOGA

SIX fishermen were allegedly attacked with stones and wooden slabs while diving on Sunday night near Kia Island on Macuata.

They were seriously injured with one admitted on Monday night at the Labasa Hospital and others recovering at home.

Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro confirmed that a few men from Kia Island were questioned at the Labasa Police Station and released as investigations continued.

“A report was received whereby six men were allegedly assaulted by villagers on Sunday night after they were confronted out at sea for diving in a reserved area,” she said.

“The incident occurred around midnight when villagers saw a torch light and approached the group, four of whom were diving.

“Claims are that there was a confrontation between the two groups and on Monday morning the incident was reported to police.”

Abele Tubama, a victim who sustained injuries on his head, said they were fishing outside the Bainivualiku reef, which is not within the qoliqoli boundary of Kia Island.

He said they were surrounded by about 30 men at Ligau Village on Kia Island.

“They approached us while we were diving and they started throwing stones at us while we were underwater and we got hurt,” he said.

“So we swam towards our boat and got into the boat, but they continued to attack us with the sticks they had and they punched us up in the boat.

“They brought us to the village and more men were waiting there for us and they punched us up. I lost conscious and fell into the water, but I was pulled out from the water.”

Taniela Baleisuva, another victim, claimed he was hit by a wooden slab across his forehead which caused a deep wound.

“They attacked me at sea and when I got to the village shore, they punched me up. I was bleeding as well. Our two boat masters were badly attacked because they waited on the boat,” he said.

His counterpart Mosese Mena is on liquid diet after he injured his chin.

“They hit my chin with a stone and I received a few stitches and I can’t eat any solid food.”

The men also claimed that their belongings including phones and diving gear were stolen that night

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