Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Police took sides in Mendi, locals claim

MOBILE squad 9 from Tari in the Hela region is now in charge of security at the 7-storey Agiru Centre in Mendi town, Southern Highlands, The National reports.
The armed policemen were called in after Mendi police personnel were allegedly taking sides in the clash involving the supporters of two acting provincial administrators – William Powi and Lawrence Olkoben – on Monday.
Some members of the provincial executive council told The National yesterday from Mendi that they would lodge a formal complaint with the Police Commissioner Tony Wagambie.
The PEC members alleged that instead of acting neutrally, police allegedly sided with one faction and fired several shots at the other.
Council president for Nipa-Basin and chairman for LLG and district affairs David Navur said they kept some empty shells fired by police.
Navur, who claimed to speak on behalf of other PEC members in the province like Andrew Kit, chairman of law and order, Joe Kunukun (chairman Works and Transport), Benny Putari (chairman education) and Ailo Arapa (chairman Community Service) said the incident happened in front of the people and they were in a process of compiling statements from the witnesses.
He said it was a serious matter and they would take it up with the appropriate authority for disciplinary actions and also sue the state in court for damages.
Navur claimed that two men seriously injured from bullet wounds were taken to Mt Hagen General Hospital on Monday afternoon.
He said nine other people who received  bullet pellets were treated at the Mendi General Hospital on Monday and discharged.
He said those  injured were with Olkoben.
Navur was not sure how many people from other side were injured.
He said more than 30 other people sustained minor injuries from missiles exchanged between the supporters.
Meanwhile, he said both Powi and Olkoben didn't enter the Agiru Centre yesterday and police from Tari were protecting it.
Provincial police commander Teddy Tei could not be reached for comments.

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