Papua New Guinea Police Commissioner David Manning says “Police Officers are trained in the escalated use of force when confronting criminal activities, up to and including the use of lethal force, and they have sworn an oath to fulfill this duty.

With the rise in the number of criminals who are now armed and shooting at the police, Police Commissioner David Manning says “all gloves are off”.

“We will not be practicing any leniency and we will neutralise the criminals through any means meaning they will be shot and killed.”

A fortnight ago in Northern province a police man was shot and killed by armed 16 year-olds who had access to firearms and were committing crimes in the province.

This week settlers who were allegedly evicted opened fire at police officers with a stray bullet hitting and wounding a female reporter.

The escalating law and order problems even got Prime Minister James Marape and former prime minister Peter O’Neill “yelling” and blaming each other over daily killings nationwide.

O’Neill took Marape to task to explain what the government’s plans were among others, on tackling the escalating law and order situation nationwide.

However, Manning says: “The RPNGG is moving from what had been an overarching emphasis on crime prevention over recent decades, to focus on responding to criminal activity and countering aggression head-on.

“Standing Orders for police officers to neutralise violent offenders through the escalated and reasonable use of force are being reinforced across units.”

The RPNGC, with the support of the Marape-Rosso Government, is repositioning police personnel and assets to take a harder stand against violent offenders and domestic terrorists.”

He further stated: “The ‘soft glove’ approach as the frontline policy has not worked, and now the gloves are off and the frontline is the confrontation and neutralisation of criminal activity at its roots.

Police officers are trained in the escalated use of force when confronting criminal activities, up to and including the use of lethal force, and they have sworn an oath to fulfil this duty he added.

Manning added that an important component of this direction includes further empowering Provincial Police Commands to engage with Provincial Administrations to respond to local crime problems.

“Legislation is being developed that clearly articulates actions of domestic terrorism, and the changes in our police force counter-terrorism approach will be reflected in this policy development.

According to information received the estimated civilian firearm possession stands currently at the tens of thousands.

With the high number of the proliferation of firearms since 2022, the number of firearms has increased to an unknown figure.

Meanwhile, PNG Police in the National Capital District are investigating the shooting of a female reporter working with the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) Central during a confrontation allegedly between police and settlers at 8-mile in Port Moresby.

In the midst of the firing, allegedly aimed at each other, a stray bullet hit the reporter who was among 13 journalists working at the Moitaka plant.

The incident was condemned by the police with Assistant Commissioner of Police-NCD and Central Anthony Wagambie Jr saying, “I have directed Metsupt NCD to have police investigators look into this immediately.

We have to establish what happened and where the bullet came from.

If this was a stray bullet or intentionally fired. Everyone must respect the work of journalists and protect them as they are the voice of the people.”

The Media Council of Papua New Guinea in a statement, while commending PNG Power representatives who ensured that an ambulance was arranged to take the injured journalist to the hospital and who covered her treatment, reminded public and corporate organisations that when the media is invited to cover an event into potentially hostile environments, all necessary precautions must be made to ensure their safety.

The Council stands ready to work with the RPNGC and other law enforcement agencies to find ways that the media can be protected, rather than be caught in the crossfire.

This will take some time and work in sensitising both the public, and the media, on their equally important roles in the pursuit of truth, information, and awareness.

According to our reporters, the incident occurred when the group had ended their tour of the facility organised by PPL.

The purpose of the visit was to see the progress of the Moitaka Power station and the new Edevu Hydro power construction and transmission lines undertaken by the PNG Hydro Limited and PNG Power.

While the team was at the Moitaka Power station, a commotion erupted outside at the nearby residents where multiple gun shots were fired.

A stray bullet from the shootout outside grazed one of the cameraman and hit the female journalist on her left arm.

The stray bullet hit and lodged into her left arm causing her to bleed as she fell to the ground in shock.

The shootout went on for around 4-5 minutes with other journalists and PPL staff taking cover.

The journalist was rushed to the Paradise Private Hospital for treatment.

Other reporters did not sustain any injuries, however, were in shock and traumatised.

The team was accompanied by the PNG Power CEO, Obed Batia, PNG Hydro Ltd Managing Director Allan Guo, PNG Power Chairman, McRonald Nale, and staff of the PNG Power.