News World PNG brushes off Australia’s concerns over protest violence

PNG brushes off Australia’s concerns over protest violence

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Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has brushed off Australia’s concerns over Wednesday’s violence that saw police shoot into a crowd of protesting students in Port Moresby.

The University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) students had been trying to march to national Parliament to continue a long-running protest against Mr O’Neill when the violence broke out.

At least 17 people were injured in the confrontation, including one who received a gunshot wound to the head.

PNG, students clash in anti-government protest

In the wake of the violence, Mr O’Neill offered his sympathies to the victims, saying the event “could have been handled better”.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he had spoken to his PNG counterpart following the shootings and offered support.

But Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that offer was not taken up.

png shooting
A man who was reportedly shot is carried in Port Moresby. Photo: Twitter

When asked about his conversation with Mr Turnbull, Mr O’Neill made it clear Australia’s help was not wanted.

“Of course Malcolm has got every right to call me any time he wants to, but as I indicated to him, these are internal matters for Papua New Guinea,” he said.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr O’Neill condemned “agitators” for instigating the violent confrontation.

“The facts relayed to me are that a small group of students were violent, threw rocks at police and provoked a response that came in the form of tear gas and warning shots,” the statement read.

Government advisers said it was not clear whether police had fired warning shots or fired directly into the crowd.

Port Moresby governor Powes Parkop said the use of live ammunition by police was “completely unwarranted”, as the students were unarmed.

Mr Parkop also challenged claims the students sparked the confrontation by throwing stones at police, saying that was not mentioned to him in any of his meetings with police authorities.

“I have not heard any such claim. The Prime Minister might have some more information, but up to now I have not heard such a claim,” he said.

The PNG government, police and Ombudsman have all announced separate inquiries into the shooting.

-ABC, with wires

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