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Papua New Guinea capital hit by arson, looting as police strike over lack of pay

Written by The Anand Market

Updated on:

(Reuters) – Shops and businesses were attacked and burned in Papua New Guinea’s capital on Wednesday and people were killed, the governor said, after police went on strike for wages.

Properties in Port Moresby were looted by “opportunists” after events “got out of control”, National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop said in a broadcast on radio station FM100.

“We have witnessed an unprecedented level of conflict in our city, something that has never happened before in the history of our city and our country,” he said on the show broadcast live on Facebook.

“This must stop tonight,” he added.

Additional police officers have been transferred to Port Moresby from regional areas, Police Commissioner David Manning said in a statement.

Police in the Pacific island nation have been grappling with a surge in violent crime over the past year, and Prime Minister James Marape said beefed-up security would help attract foreign investment to the booming sector. boom in PNG’s gold and copper resources.

Marape said his goal was to grow the country’s economy to 200 billion kina ($55 billion) by 2029, more than double its gross domestic product since he took office in 2019, with the support for five gas and mining projects.

Media reports showed fires in the city on Wednesday, with the PNG Post Courier newspaper reporting that firefighters had been threatened as they tried to do their job.

The Parliament guardhouse was also set on fire, the Post Courier reported.

“Some people unfortunately lost their lives today,” he said.

The police began a strike on Wednesday morning after seeing a reduction in their salaries.

The government has released messages on social media denying that a new tax has been imposed on the police, with Marape pledging to correct any administrative errors that may have caused the salary shortfall.

Without police, the city has “lost control,” Parkop said on the show.

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; editing by Nick Macfie)

Copyright 2024 Thomson Reuters.