Monday, September 20, 2010

Armed PNGDF troops harass Lae security

ARMED Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldiers last Friday drove around Lae and intimidated all Guard Dog security personnel in Top Town forcing shops and offices within the vicinity and elsewhere around the city to close for the morning, The National reports.

The convoy of six vehicles did not attack any member of the public other than those trying to take photographs.

More than 30 soldiers, dressed in combat fatigues and camouflaged for jungle warfare, arrived in Top Town at about 9am with their commanding officer, Lt-Col Mark Keru, face swollen and bruised, and wearing a red floral calypso shirt and accompanied by his wife, and went straight for the Guard Dogs sentinels.

The soldiers’ convoy was not arranged in an offensive formation as the point guard, a white Toyota Landcruiser pick-up utility was placed in the rear – a defensive tactic.

It had an M60 machine gun mounted on the top of the driver’s cabin and another in the trailer with only the nozzle visible.

In the lead was the juniper green-coloured escort sports utility vehicle (SUV) with the commandant of the Defence Academy, Lt-Col John Bagme and guards followed by the Engineer Battalion commanding officer Keru in his white SUV.

Other juniper green vehicles, an SUV and a troop carrier, followed. Behind them a bus loaded with soldiers was tailed by the white utility.

They went to all commercial banks, Bank South Pacific, Westpac and ANZ, around Top Town and ordered all guards off their posts.

At BSP, a guard refused to leave his posting and was lashed with a rubber hose at the branch at the corner of 6th Street and Central Avenue branch.

Guards at the neighbouring ANZ on Central Avenue and Westpac, on the other side of 6th Street, were chased into the banks while others removed their brown overalls and melted into the crowd.

The soldiers then turned to Food Mart on 7th Street as they were cheered by the public. Opportunists tried to hurl stones into shops but were discouraged at gun-point by the soldiers.

They told the crowd that they “were upholding law and order against thugs like security guards”.

By 11am, they were stationed near the Lae Central police station at the foot of the driveway up to the governor’s official residence.

They were approached by police task force officers and then taken to the station where they laid a complaint of assault against Guard Dog security guards.

No details were available but it is understood the Guard Dog security men at the Lae International Hotel had attacked Keru after the 35th Independence Day anniversary dinner hosted by the Lae city council last Thursday.

Other soldiers who did not take part in the incident said that this was the second incident involving attack by Guard Dog security.

Last year, a commissioned officer was entering the Foodmart Supermarket with a sports back pack.

He refused to remove it at the entrance and was consequently attacked.

The soldiers demanded and were compensated with a pig and K7, 000.

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