The attack on police and burning of 13 police houses in Milne Bay last week is an act of terrorism and will be dealt with swiftly and strongly, says Papua New Guinea Police Commissioner David Manning.
“These are not your common criminals but are terrorists and will be dealt with as such,” he said adding that the terrorists had declared war on the Independent State of PNG,” Manning said.
“We will bring the full force of the government down hard on these terrorists.
“All resources at our disposal as well as manpower will be committed to hunting them down.
“They can run, but they cannot hide. Their days are numbered,” he said, adding the PNG Defence Force has been called out to help police hunt them.
Manning said he had directed acting deputy commissioner of Police and chief of operations Donald Yamasombi to use all available police resources and manpower to flush out and capture the terrorists.
“Two police mobile squads, including the Air Tactical Unit and Water Police will be deployed.
“They will be joined by additional manpower from the PNG Defence Force.
“They have gone too far and must be stopped. People who are supporting these terrorists must understand that the terrorists are undermining and threatening the national security of PNG and must be stopped,” the commissioner said.
Alotau MP Charles Abel has asked for the declaration of a state of emergency in the province.
“There are ongoing issues that are violence-related,” Abel said.
“After the unfortunate incident on Friday night, we are looking at the state of emergency option.
“It is being processed by the Government now and I am supporting that option.”
A man was reported dead and others injured, including two police officers, after the exchange of fire with police from Thursday night to early Friday morning.
The gang members were allegedly led by wanted criminals Tommy Maeva Baker and Michael Yawi.
Police managed to secure the town of Alotau after driving out the gang members estimated to be more than 50.
Shops were broken into allegedly by the thugs, hotels were targeted and the Water Police barracks burned down.
Meanwhile, declaring a state of emergency (SOE) in the National Capital District (NCD) as a short-term solution and option to stem ethnic violence is being discussed with the Government, Police Comm David Manning says.
“We are also suggesting to revisit the introduction of the Vagrancy Act, but this time as a provision under a proposed Internal Protection and Security Act,” he added.
Manning’s remarks follow the latest fight between two ethnic groups that has claimed two lives in a week.
The commissioner has called on the leaders of the Goilala (Central) and Hela people to end the bloody and deadly ethnic clashes in the nation’s capital.
“The recent ethnic clashes have caused so much fear and anxiety within communities in the NCD in the last three days,” he added.
“While police are out on the streets of Port Moresby to prevent further blood-shed and maintain public order and peace, real and lasting peace and normalcy can be restored with the assistance of the leadership of both groups at the family, clan, tribal, ward, district, provincial and national levels.
“These ethnic clashes have been going on for some time now between various ethnic groups within the NCD and in other parts of the country.
“We need to seriously look into these clashes and identify the underlying causes.
“While drugs and alcohol may be contributing to the clashes, there could be other reasons as well.
“Law and order is not an exclusive police responsibility but is everyone’s business as well.
“So leaders at all levels of society must step up and take responsibility,” he said.
Manning, who is also the Covid-19 national pandemic response controller, said the virus had to date claimed 115 lives and infected more than 10,000 people, including frontline workers.
He said health facilities nationwide were overwhelmed with addressing the Covid-19 and ongoing health concerns and the last thing it needed were additional patients injured from ethnic clashes.
“These ongoing ethnic clashes are symptoms of serious underlying problems within our country and we all need to begin to seriously address them instead of expecting them to go away,” he said.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS