New batch of soldiers sent to Hela to maintain security


A new batch of 30 soldiers have been deployed to Hela to maintain security, says PNG Defence Force commander Brig-Gen Gilbert Toropo.
He clarified that the officers were deployed to ensure that the LNG project sites were protected from any election-related violence after speculation were raised on social media platforms questioning why soldiers were deployed into the province when the province had already completed its elections.
“The officers were sent in to maintain security and also carry on the guns amnesty call-out that is still in place. Before elections we had a 30-man team on the ground carrying out the call out, then the same 30 men stayed back to cover the elections as well.  So after elections in the province ended, the men were withdrawn so that they could rest and recuperate before going out again.”
Toropo said the new 30-man team that was deployed during the weekend were there to take the place of the first team to maintain security and also continue with the call-out.
“The call out is nationwide and we started off with Hela, and it was supposed to move on to Southern Highlands after Hela and down to Enga and Mt Hagen but with the national election taking place, the call-out was put on hold. Now that election is over, we will kick off the gun amnesty call out again for people to voluntarily surrender illegal firearms.”
Toropo said that the team was also there to protect the LNG sites.
“With election violence in the western end of the Highlands region, the team will also be there to maintain security and ensure that the election violence in Southern Highlands does not spill into Hela.”
He said all officers involved in the election have been withdrawn except for some in the Highlands provinces where counting was still taking place and where there was election-related fighting.

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