From The National, Papua New Guinea’s leading daily newspaper (click to view this and other related stories)
QUICK action by police prevented opportunists from looting Asian-owned shops and supermarkets in Mt Hagen, Kundiawa and Goroka yesterday.
The strong police response was accompanied by condemnation of the looters’ actions by a host of politicians and civil society leaders including Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Abal, Eastern Highlands Governor Malcolm Kela-Smith, ousted Madang governor Sir Arnold Amet, Opposition leader Sir Mekere Morauta and PNG Trade Union Congress general secretary John Paska.
The Chinese Embassy in Port Moresby also expressed grave concern over the safety of its nationals and their businesses.
“It is our sincere hope that the PNG Government will take effective measures to prevent such incidents from recurring, so as to ensure a peaceful environment for all people in PNG to live and work safely and harmoniously,” a spokesperson for the embassy said.
Lae police, meanwhile, reported yesterday that two men had been killed in the mad rush to break into Chinese-run shops at Eriku last Thursday.
One of them was shot dead while another was trampled in the stampede.
Business activities in Goroka came to a complete standstill yesterday morning as anti-Asian protesters converged on the township calling for the removal of all Asian businesses.
Mr Kela-Smith addressed more than 5,000 protesters at the Peace Park and called on them not to loot shops and attack people.
He said he would convey their concerns to Parliament when it convenes this morning.
In Mt Hagen, police fired more than 50 gunshots into the air yesterday morning to disperse hundreds of people who had gathered at Pope John Paul oval.
Police said they had to fire in the air to chase the people away after they refused initial orders to disperse.
Similar police action stopped a group in Kundiawa from looting Asian-owned shops yesterday.
Simbu provincial police commander Supt Joseph Tondop confirmed last night that quick police action stopped a group of opportunists who tried to copy the situation in the other major centres.
Meanwhile, Enga provincial police commander Supt Michael Chare said the province was quiet.
Supt Chare said many Chinese-owned businesses in the province operated normally yesterday but were told to look out for any large gatherings near their shops.
He said his men were closely monitoring the business houses owned by the Chinese in Wabag town and also in Porgera.