The National, Wednesday 29th Febuary 2012
POLICE have denied that six police mobile squad members deliberately interrupted a haus krai for the 25 people who died in the Tumbi landslip, Southern Highlands. The six officers were attacked by angry locals after they had tried to arrest youths who were drinking alcohol nearby in Nogoli, Hela province.
Locals claimed the policemen were drunk at the time of the incident.
One police vehicle was set on fire and another badly damaged during last Friday’s incident. The six, reportedly members of the police mobile squad 01 providing security at the LNG project in Hides, had seen youths drinking alcohol at the haus krai.
“They forcefully entered the area, threatened the people and assaulted them without giving any explanations,” Tindi Apa, a local from the area, said. Angered over the assault on the youths and lack of respect for the haus krai, the locals retaliated by bashing up some of the policemen.
Hela provincial police commander Supt John Anawe told The National his men were on routine patrol when they saw drunken youths causing a nuisance in the vicinity of the haus krai. They tried to disperse them but came under attack. Anawe said the allegation that his men were drunk was made by locals who wanted to cover up their action.
“Only six policemen were on the ground and they were outnumbered by the mob,” he said. He said two M16 assault rifles and one Mossberg shotgun confiscated by the locals were returned to police after negotiations.
Two vehicles donated by ExxonMobil to police for operations were also damaged by the mob. Deputy police commissioner (operations) Simon Kauba yesterday condemned the actions of the locals and said he had directed Anawe to investigate the matter and have all those responsible arrested and charged