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By Rita Peki in Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea

A few shops and buildings in Papua New Guinea’s Western Highlands provincial capital Mt Hagen have been destroyed and looted in a riot that caused four deaths and left 20 people injured and hospitalised.

The violence was triggered by a fight between between Mt Hagen Secondary and Hagen Park Secondary schoolboys last Friday.

Provincial police commander Chief Superintendent Joe Puri said tension was high throughout the weekend but there were no further fights.

Tension continued yesterday forcing Mt Hagen police to set up a roadblock from the Komkui Building roundabout to the old tribes’ theatre roundabout to ensure normal business continued.

The roadblock was also to allow the relatives of the four victims to come forward to show their sorrow.

The fight last Friday occurred in the middle of the city and opportunists took advantage and destroyed Hagen Plaza, which houses a food restaurant, a Digicel shop, Trophy Haus and Fone Haus.

Bystanders said the opportunists ran in numbers into the plaza and grabbed whatever that was inside, including mobile devices, footwear, work wear and other valuable items.

‘Disappointed’ with the public
Chief Superintendent Puri said he was disappointed with the public for taking part in the fight where buildings were damaged and shops looted.

“The public is supposed to contain the fight when it first started among the boys rather than ignoring and joining in, as it went out of proportion and eventually led to deaths and injuries,” he said.

“We have taken the investigation very seriously since day one and have already engaged outside investigation teams so the situation is not compromised in any way, and after that, we will be able to identify who was involved.”

Chief Superintendent Puri also urged the public to maintain peace and look after properties and businesses in the province.

Service providers in the province have complained that students must not be involved in fights as opportunists often damage and loot their shops.

Other businesses that were targeted included Boroko Motors and Wamps Fuel Station.

Rita Peki is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.

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