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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

PM O'Neill's Businesses destroyed in Southern Highlands

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s official vehicle and business interest in Mendi, Southern Highlands Province, were targets of a rampaging crowd on Saturday afternoon.

The Toyota LandCruiser V8 vehicle was stolen, and construction and mining logistics company Wildcat Construction base looted and torched.

Another company South West Air airport hangar was ransacked although its fleet of fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft had been moved elsewhere earlier.

The LandCruiser was among 10 vehicles, including an excavator, backhoe and grader, stolen by a rampaging crowd that had ran amok through the town.

An expatriate manager was rescued by bystanders when the Prime Minister’s premises were attacked.

The Wildcat Construction and South West Air are the two biggest locally owned companies in the province that employees many locals and foreigners.

The attack followed the declaration of William Powi as Governor of Southern Highlands Province last Thursday.

Witnesses in Mendi yesterday said the rampaging crowd blamed Mr O’Neill for the long delay in counting and eventual declaration of Powi as Governor.

All government services and businesses were closed and Mendi town was quiet and deserted yesterday.

The police station gate was locked with chain while the hospital, post office and Bank South Pacific were also closed.

Traffic along the entire Southern Highlands section of the Highlands Highway was scarce.

Senior public servants and a policeman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said all facilities and business house like the bank, shops, airlines and schools, besides the provincial administration, had shut operations in fear of violence.

They said Air Niugini and South West Air, which lost computers and aircraft parts, have closed their operations for indefinite period.

The former Carson Pratt Services workshop at Wara Maigani, now owned by Wildcat Construction, was burned down while the main Papindo Supermarket was looted.

Also on Saturday afternoon two policemen were shot dead while another was seriously wounded and is now admitted at the Mt Hagen General Hospital.

Two teachers were with the policemen when attacked; one of them had his hands chopped off while his colleague is still missing.

It was reported that the Mendi General Hospital and the Mendi School of Nursing gates were rammed while the staff were threatened.

Public servants and schools in Mendi, including Mendi Day Secondary Schools, have all been affected.

Sources said police in the province have sought refuge with the candidates, allowing criminals to take over the town, firing guns indiscriminately.

Southern Highlands Governor William Powi condemned the actions of the minority who continue to take the law into their hands.

He said it was the work of the police to maintain law and order but the province had been taken over by warlords.

Sending his condolence to the families of the two police based in Koroba, Enga Province, killed and the wounded, Mr Powi said he did not understand the motive of the killings.

“I send my condolences to the families of those attacked. We have no issue with Hela and the attack on innocent people is unacceptable. I call on the police hierarchy to arrest people involved in instigating violence and denying freedom of the citizens,” he said.

He said it was only a handful of people from Mendi who were sabotaging peace and harmony in the town.
Post Courier/PacNews

Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on 2:16 PM. Filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article

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