The police in Papua New Guinea has shot dead four people at a protest held by university students in Port Moresby, the capital of PNG on Wednesday. It was also reported that 13 students are being treated for the injuries sustained as a result of the firing by the PNG police. Looting and rioting have been raging the island since the incident.
Australia is verifying reports of the firing and has called for calm. Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said that the incident, if true, is a “tragedy.”
“We call on all sides for calm to de-escalate the tensions and certainly call on all sides to respect the peaceful and lawful right to protest,” the Daily Telegraph quoted her as telling reporters in Brisbane on Wednesday. Bishop will get in touch with her PNG counterpart once she receives more information on the incident from the Australian representatives at the field in Papua New Guinea.
“There are about 70 Australian Federal Police officers in PNG spread throughout the country and our high commission will be working with the Australian AFP who are there to monitor the situation and keep me and keep the Australian government informed,” she said.
The university students were holding a protest march to the national parliament to uphold their long-running opposition of PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neil. According to the witnesses, the students were stopped in their march as the PNG police suddenly started shooting into the crowd. The police officers even blew punches and kicked the crowd, they added.
The police had to use tear gas to disperse an angry crowd who gathered outside Port General Moresby Hospital, the ABC reported. According to hospital staff, a clash erupted between protesters and the police soon after the injured were brought in.
“Now there is a very big clash with the public and with the PNG police just outside the Port Moresby General Hospital,” the hospital official told Reuters over the telephone. “There is also shooting going on, open gunfire.”