Papua New Guinea islanders filed suit yesterday in San Francisco against a London-based mining company, Rio Tinto PLC, over environmental and human rights abuses, acting under a federal law that allows foreign nationals to bring lawsuits in the U.S. against companies accused of violating international law. The suit claims that Rio Tinto broke laws by razing rainforests on Bougainville Island, northeast of Australia, and that a company copper mine there is exposing residents to high levels of pollution. The plaintiffs allege that the company has bought off the Papua New Guinea government and that the government has killed some 15,000 islanders opposed to the copper mine through air bombings and village burnings over the last decade.

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