Madang town in Papua New Guinea is in a state of lawlessness after policeman was killed on Wednesday, sparking a wave of violence and havoc which a senior police officer described as “chaotic”.
Assistant commissioner of police, northern Peter Guinness said: “The police-man went to a village in Transgogol and was attacked and murdered by the villagers there.
“As a result, roads were blocked in parts of the town and opportunists took advantage of this and converged on Madang, causing chaos.”
He said members of the Northern Mobile Group were sent to Madang to support local police there.
“Members of the police mobile unit went into the village where the incident happened and were able to recover a police-issued firearm and ammunition belonging to the deceased policeman,” he said.
Guinness said police had obtained the names of the suspects involved in the killing of the policeman. But police could not execute any arrests yet because of the chaotic situation in Madang currently.
“Madang town at the moment is very chaotic and the relatives of the deceased policeman have blocked access roads into Madang town as opportunists gathered. This is going to be a huge law and order problem,” he said.
Police have advised parents not to let their children go to school, while working people should take safety precautions or not go to work at all.
He said authorities were trying to address the problem as soon as possible.
“We have experienced death to a young policeman, but that does not give anyone the reason to inflict chaos in Madang town,” he said.
He said innocent people, business houses, working people, students and the public should not be dragged into the situation and become victims of looting and other criminal activities.
He warned that policemen sent to contain the situation in Madang had been instructed to use force under the law when situations warranted it. “So opportunists and those instigating chaos in Madang town had to be warned. Police will not hesitate to use force when necessary under the law to restore normalcy,” he said.
Meanwhile, Guinness has appealed for funding support from police headquarters to support their operations in Madang. He has also spoken to Madang Governor Ramsey Pariwa about supporting police.
Deputy commissioner, special operations, Donald Yamasombi said police would pursue those responsible for the killing of the policeman.
Yamasombi, who is out of the country, told The National via WhatsApp that the killing was senseless and that the Special Division would give its full support to ACP Guinness to find those responsible.
Madang police commander Superintendent David Seine Jr said the murder of the policeman is a police case now and police will deal with it accordingly.
He also appealed to locals in Madang not to take the situation as an ethnic issue with people labelling the disturbance as Highlands versus Madang people.
“We all have a responsibility to safe guard the rights of the innocent public, business houses and other government services,” he said.
Provincial administrator Frank Lau said the situation remained very tense’ in Madang town.
“Prior to this situation, there were four groups of people clashing with each other in Madang town and two youths were reported to have died,” he said. He said the provincial authority was in discussion to solve the issue with the four different groups involved in clashes after the murder of the police man was reported late on Wednesday.