31 May – A student leader in Papua New Guinea has claimed a riot in Enga province was started by members of the public who were attacked by Police.
The police said students sparked the riot.
The students have been protesting for a month while demanding the PNG Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, step down to face corruption allegations.
They’ve been promoting their demand around the country through an awareness campaign, which they brought to Wabag, the capital of Enga, last Thursday where the riot occured.
A student leader Youngsten Taliu Wally said more than fifteen thousand people had gathered in Wabag for the awareness forum when about a hundred members of the police force started firing tear gas.
“It was only provoked when the police tried to stop the students’ awareness. They fired tear gas and all these things to stop but they were outnumbered,” said Mr Wally.
“When all the police and people ran away the angry people got up and they stoned the BSP (Bank of South Pacific) building and the provincial centre building the Ipotas centre. Many shops around the town were destroyed and they were broken.”
Enga’s acting provincial police commander Chief Inspector Epenes Nili told the National newspaper that students staged the forum after he refused their request to hold the meeting on Thursday morning.
Mr Nili said the crowd started throwing objects at his vehicle when he tried to stop the forum.
“They started hitting my vehicle before the opportunist joined in to cause damage to the bank with stones,” said Mr Nili.
Meanwhile, 18 students arrested in Wewak for holding an awareness campaign, have been bailed by the provincial governor and former PNG prime minister, Sir Michael Somare.
In another incident, PNG Today reports a group of students promoting awarness in Simbu province were shot at while driving between Kainantu and Kompri Valley
The vice president of Unitech’s student representative council, Robert Kerenga said no one was injured.