“Peace corps operations continue as normal,” US office says as police follow leads after attack

    A brutal attack on the US Peace Corps director in Tonga will not affect the organisation’s operation the Peace Corps says.

    Erin Durney, a spokesperson for the Peace Corps Office of Communications in Washington, said the woman had been evacuated to Auckland for medical treatment.

    The director, who has not been named, was jogging along a footpath behind one of the residences at the waterfront in Sopu when a man attacked her on Saturday, July 16.

    The Tongan Police said they were following leads in the brutal attack.

    Police said they wanted to speak to a man in his late teens or early 20s in relation to the attack. He is described as Tongan or Polynesians.

    The man was seen holding a green towel over his head and across his face while walking away from the area near the scene around the time of the attack.

    Miss Durney said the health, safety and security of Volunteers and staff was the Peace Corps’ top priority.

    “While we cannot eliminate every risk that volunteers and staff face, the Peace Corps is committed to providing world-class training, guidance and support to help reduce risks and responding effectively and compassionately when incidents do occur,” she said.

    “Each Peace Corps post has an emergency action plan which is continually updated.

    “Peace Corps security experts in Washington and embassy officials work closely with posts to develop and update the plan and thoroughly train Volunteers and staff to react to emergencies.

    Police investigations are underway, and Peace Corps and other U.S. officials are in communication with local authorities”, Durney said.

    Meanwhile the Tongan community is raising funds to pay for a reward to find the person who was responsible for the attack.

    The fundraising drive’s host, the Vake Talifolau Radio, station has written to the Tongan Police asking that the money be used as a reward for whoever helps them find the culprit.

    “We are willing to proceed with the fund raising, but we still need your support, co-operation and collaboration in terms of allowing us to submit the money that we will collect to the Tonga Police,” the radio station said.

    Anyone with information that might lead Police to the man they wanted to speak to is asked to contact the Nuku’alofa Chief Superintendent Tevita Fifita on 7717816 or 922.

    The main points

    • A brutal attack on the US Peace Corps director in Tonga will not affect the organisation’s operation, the Peace Corps says.
    • Peace Corps spokesperson Erin Durney said the woman had been flown to Auckland for medical treatment.
    • The director, who has not been named, was jogging along a footpath behind one of the residences at the waterfront in Sopu when a man attacked her on Saturday, July 16.
    • The Tongan Police said they were following leads in the brutal attack.

    For more information

    Fundraising to find US Peace Corps’ attacker as fury surges among Tongan community 

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