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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

Commissioner Baki reassures public after confrontation between students and police

Police Commissioner Gari Baki has refuted media reports that a number of people were killed in a confrontation with Police in Port Moresby today.

The Commissioner said 23 people believed to be University students were reportedly injured in a confrontation with police outside the precincts of the University of Papua New Guinea Waigani Campus early this morning.

Commissioner Baki said the 23 students were treated both at the Port Moresby General Hospital and the Gerehu St John’s Hospital today. Five are reported to be in a critical condition, as confirmed by Dr Sam Yokopia, the head of the Accidents and Emergency Ward at the Port Moresby General Hospital.

Commissioner Baki said students at University of Papua New Guinea were trying to leave the campus in several buses apparently to protest at the National Parliament when they were stopped at the University gate and told to return to the campus. He said the students had not sought any approval from the National Capital District Peace and Good Order Committee to carry out their protest.

Unhappy over this the students responded violently by stoning the policemen who fired several shots into the air to disperse the students. The students burnt a dormitory and seized and burnt a large truck belonging to a Chinese construction company. Police believe that the students may have then dispersed by foot to various suburbs within the NCD to lobby support from the public.

Commissioner Baki said these unfolding events were also posted and circulated on social media spurring opportunists to take advantage of the situation as looters broke into various Asian owned shops at Gerehu and Six Mile but police responded quickly to quell the violence and disperse the crowd.

A large crowd armed with machetes, bows and arrows and home-made guns attempted to burn down the Tokam Police Barracks at Waigani but were also dispersed by Police, Commissioner Baki said.

He said policemen at the scene were pelted by rocks, shot at with arrows and even shot with what appears to be home-made guns. Several police vehicles were also stoned but no member of the Constabulary were injured in today’s melee.

A large crowd also turned up at the Port Moresby General Hospital today after hearing and seeing reports on social media of injured students being transported there for medical attention.

Commissioner Baki said aggrieved friends and relatives of the injured as well as opportunists and criminal elements tried to break and loot shops but police were quickly dispatched to defuse the marauding crowd.

He said reports of sporadic assaults and muggings especially on vulnerable women were reported in some parts of the city after all public transportation operators refused to provide their services in the wake of this student-led violence.

The Commissioner said all police manpower including recruits at the Bomana Police College will be deployed throughout the city today to assist restore law and order in the city.

Most shops and businesses in the city were also closed today in fear of being targeted by criminals and opportunists but Commissioner Baki said police will be out in full force tomorrow onward to ensure peace and good order is maintained in the city.

“Police in the city and around the country will come down hard on any opportunists who want to cause trouble,” Commissioner Baki said.

In the meantime Commissioner Baki has called upon people to be responsible and refrain from releasing unconfirmed, unsubstantiated information to the public.

"Unconfirmed, unsubstantiated and unfounded reports can cause fear, anxiety and could actually cause or incite violence and public disorder," Commissioner Baki said.

He blasted the mainstream media as well as the social media for being irresponsible and spreading false and misleading reports.

In the other provinces, Madang, Jiwaka, Eastern Highlands Province, Western Highlands Province, Milne Bay Province, Hela and the Manus provinces have been reported quiet over the last 24 hours.

In the Western Highlands Province, the Provincial Police Commander Chief Superintendent Martin Lakari reported that road blocks were set up in the Nebilyer area Togoba Road Junction. A police mobile squad was dispatched to the areas to clear the road blocks.

For the Central province, PPC Central Chief Inspector Laimo Asi has confirmed that the province has been quiet. He said there are no protests but police are taking precautions at the Headquarters in town and have grounded all vehicles in case opportunists took advantage of the situation and stoned the police vehicles.

The Enga Province is quiet but police are on alert for any situation.

In Lae, Morobe Province, the Metropolitan Superintendent, Chief Superintendent Anthony Wagambie Jnr said the situation was quiet. A road block was set up by Unitech students in the morning in front of the main campus where they were reported to have stoned passing motorists. Police were called to clear the road block and disperse the students. Mr Wagambie went on campus and discouraged the students from resorting to violence.

Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on 6:28 PM. Filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article


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