WORLD

Papua New Guinea Police Shoot At Students, Four Killed : Report

They were protesting poor governance.

08/06/2016 11:21 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:53 PM AEST
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PNG Police trying to stop looters during a mass protest in Port Moresby in 1997

Papua New Guinea Police have reportedly shot at university students in the nation's capital, leaving four dead.

There are multiple reports protesting students trying to march from the University of Papua New Guinea to parliament were stopped by police.

The ABC reports four students were killed and seven are understood to have been injured, while local publication LoopPNG is reporting that one student is dead and several others were shot.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop called for calm and said she was seeking confirmation on the deaths.

"I know students have been shot but we are still trying to determine whether there have been deaths and how many have been injured," she said.

"We call on all sides for calm to deescalate the tensions and certainly call on all sides to respect the peaceful and lawful right to protest. We will be monitoring the situation closely.

There are about 70 Australian Federal Police officers in PNG spread throughout the country, and Australia's high commission will be working with the Australian AFP to monitor the situation and the Australian Government informed, she said.

Students said police fired shots directly into the crowd when the students would not let them arrest the president of the student council.

The acting chancellor of UPNG, Dr Nicholas Mann, reportedly told Pacific Beat he did not know the full details of what happened.

"I understand that police have not given them the clearance or approval to do [march on Parliament], so when there is defiance of lawful instruction there is bound to be consequences," he said.

Student Gerald Peni told the national broadcaster a number of people were injured and some may have died.

"There were a number of us who have been hurt," Peni said.

"Girls and boy altogether, some had cuts on their faces and their legs.

"Two were shot, the boys were shot, so we know that we have two casualties been shot by police."

The students have been protesting for five weeks against Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's handling of corruption allegations and management of the economy.

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For the past five weeks the students have been protesting Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill's handling of economic issues and corruption allegations

Staff at the university reportedly accused police of beating a female student, before she was rushed to hospital.

MP Garry Juffa told LoopPNG the issue will be raised in Parliament.

"Police are following instruction to protect civilians and property but must exercise caution.

"On the same side there must be no provocations," Juffa said.

Last week former prime minister Sir Michael Somare reportedly censured police for arresting protesting students at the behest of politicians.

Eighteen people were reported to have been arrested by heavily armed police for unlawful assembly last in the the capital of East Sepik, Wewak.

In a statement the non-government organisation Human Rights Watch called for an impartial investigation.

"The police shooting of protesting students in Port Moresby is shocking, and a truly terrible incident for which all security officials responsible for using lethal force unnecessarily need to be brought to justice," Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director, Phil Robertson, said in a statement.

"Prime Minister Peter O'Neill should immediately launch an impartial, thorough and transparent investigation, and all officials found criminally culpable for orders and actions resulting in injuries and deaths should be held to account, no matter what their rank."

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