By DULCIE OREKE and JUNIOR UKAHA
POLICE will not hesitate to use whatever force is necessary to enforce law and order, National Capital District metropolitan commander Supt Joseph Tondop has said, The National reports.
In the wake of an incident last Friday, where police shot dead three armed men and wounded two others, Tondop said there was an increase in criminal activities in Port Moresby, making it unsafe for residents and visitors.
Tondop said it was time the police and law-abiding citizens said "enough is enough".
He urged criminals to lay down their arms and take stock of their lives, adding that there were many worthwhile activities they should engage themselves in.
Five men, armed with two semi-automatic pistols, fired at police when they were intercepted at the Courts roundabout in Gordon, NCD, by members of the Armed Robbery Unit.
Tondop said the chase began after an Asian businessman was held up and robbed at Hanuabada around 1pm.
He said the armed men were in a stolen car when they were spotted on Waigani Drive.
Tondop said the exchange of gunfire began when police officers signalled the driver of the stolen car to stop but he ignored the warning.
Police gave chase and, after about 30 minutes of exchanging fire, the driver lost control of the vehicle and crashed it into a flower bed in the middle of the road.
Police found weapons including homemade guns in the car.
The three men were believed to be from Morobe, Eastern Highlands and Central.
Tondop said the criminals belonged to a group known to police as the "A Team" and had been wanted for a string of illegal activities.
He said two of the men had escaped while in custody at the Boroko police station in relation to robbery offences while one was believed to be the driver of the late Wong Tee Tee's killer.
He said police were in the process of coming up with a response team targeting hotspots based on intelligence.
A doctor at the Port Moresby General Hospital accident and emergency ward, who did not want to be named, confirmed that the hospital had two injured men.
"Yes, they were hit by bullets," he said. "We will do what we can to help."
Police said the armed men had been travelling in a stolen vehicle, a grey Honda CRV, bearing the registration BDA 417, when a police team intercepted them and gave chase along Kennedy Road around 1pm.
The shootout ended at the busy Waigani Drive next to the Kone Tigers oval when police shot the driver.
Police said the driver, of highlands' origin, lost control of the vehicle and it veered off the road and hit a concrete flower bed in the middle of the freeway.
The driver tried to escape but was shot and died on the spot.
A second gang member, believed to be from Morobe, was hit and died in the vehicle.
The third man, believed to be from Central, died from bullet wounds to his chest.
Two others who tried to flee the scene were shot and arrested by police.
A senior police officer at the scene said the two guns and a large quantity of ammunition found in the car were evidence that the men had been planning a major robbery when they were intercepted.
He told the crowd at the scene that criminals would face the same fate.
"This is to teach a lesson to you all," he said.
"If you want to steal, you will die like this."
A man, who was taking pictures of the scene using his mobile phone, was assaulted and his phone taken away by police.
He was ordered to "give the phone, shut up and drive on".