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Missing cops: 15 dead after rioters loot stores, and run amok amid police strike in PNG

Missing cops: 15 dead after rioters loot stores, and run amok amid police strike in PNG

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Virendra Pandit 

 

New Delhi: Papua New Guinea (PNG), the island nation in the Pacific Ocean next to Australia, on Thursday, became an example of what happens when police go on strike against pay cuts: hundreds of unafraid robbers and rioters roamed around freely, looted stores, and killed 15 people in gay abandon, and even threatened firefighters if they tried to do their job.

After rampaging crowds looted stores and torched buildings on Wednesday, PNG’s Prime Minister James Marape, who hit global headlines when he publicly touched the feet of visiting Indian PM Narendra Modi in May 2023, said the “lawlessness would not be tolerated.”

The United States embassy in Port Moresby said police had returned to work, but that tensions remained high.

Properties in PNG’s capital Port Moresby were attacked and set on fire, the media reported.

Already, the PNG police struggled with a surge in violent crime over the past year. Still, the force went on a strike on Wednesday morning after a reduction in their pay packets.

At least 15 people died during a night of violent riots across the nation as thousands of fearless rioters and looters created havoc and panic everywhere.

Eight people died in riots in the capital Port Moresby while another seven were killed in Lae, in the country’s north ABC News reported.

The government circulated messages on social media denying that a new tax had been imposed on police, and Marape vowed to fix any administrative error that had caused the pay shortfall.

Footages on social media showed fires burning in the city on Wednesday, with the PNG Post Courier newspaper reporting firefighters had been threatened as they tried to do their jobs.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the country’s High Commission was monitoring the situation, and Canberra had not received any requests for help from Papua New Guinea, which it regularly supports in policing and security.

“We continue to urge calm at this difficult time. We haven’t had any requests from the PNG government at this time but … our friends in Papua New Guinea, we have a great relationship with them,” Albanese said.

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