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By Staff Reporter : PNG Today

PNG Govt deploys Troops to troubled Hela and Southern Highlands Provinces

The Papua New Guinea Government has deployed the country's Defece Force troops to  the restive oil rich Southern Highlands and Hela provinces.

More than 440 troops were deployed to the provinces after trouble flared on June 15 following a high court decision to dismiss an election petition against incumbent governor William Powi and also the burning of machinery by Angore landowners near the Hides Gas fields.

The Government has declared a State of Emergency in the provinces and mobilized police and army into the region.

PNGDF Commander General Gilbert Toropo said last Friday this will be the second biggest callout since the 2017 national elections where 500 soldiers were deployed.

But he cautioned his men that ‘we are not going into a war zone, we are going to our people’ and urged his soldiers to use common sense and minimal force.

The SOE was declared after supporters of the petitioner, angered by th court decision, torched a Dash 8 plane belong to Air Niugini subsidiary Link PNG, and burnt the court house and governors residential compound.

During a press conference last Friday, PNGDF commander, Brigadier General Gilbert Toropo confirmed that the PNGDF will be deploying a contingent of 440 troops to the SOE area.

This is about 3 companies of about 150 men each.

“Today, we have a total of 440 troops deployed in support of the police in assisting in the election related law and order situations and also response to natural disaster and LNG project security. This is a significant force deployment and the highest number of troops deployed anytime apart from the security support operations provided during election periods over the years,”

Despite the massive deployment of troops and recent incidents of conflict between national security forces and issues motivated groups (IMG’s) in the region, Commander Toropo has maintained that the PNGDF does not anticipate much resistance from IMG’s and he has instructed his troops to use only minimal force where necessary.

“We understand that the incidents happening up in the southern highlands are known to be the actions of a few individuals which do not represent the majority of peace loving people. I want to make it clear that this is not a warzone. When we go into the Southern Highlands and Hela, we are not going into a warzone. We are going to our people… I am pretty sure that common sense will prevail,” said Commander Toropo.

“The security forces will continue to remain in Enga, Southern Highlands and Hela provinces until peace and stability is returned and the perpetrators of these incidents in Mendi, Angore and Hides are dealt with,” he said.

Posted by Staff Reporter : PNG Today on 4:22 PM. Filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Share this Article

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