Police focus on Mendi

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By REBECCA KUKU and PETER WARI
POLICE Commissioner Gari Baki and additional police officers are travelling to Mendi, Southern Highlands, to try to restore calm to a situation he says is election-related.
He also condemned the shooting to death of two police officers last Saturday on a highway in Southern Highlands.
Baki said “it had nothing to do with police work, but because of politics”.
Government services, businesses, schools and the airport in Mendi have closed down because of the civil unrest which began last weekend. It followed the declaration of the winner (William Powi) of the Southern Highlands regional seat.
The counting had to be done in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands because of the unrest in Mendi.
“A redeployment of police officers will be sent to Mendi to instil law and order in the province,” Baki said.
“I will also be flying to Mendi tomorrow (today) to assess the situation and to bring some calm and order to the province.”
Baki said the two policemen, based in Koroba, Hela, were mistaken by the killers as officers supporting Powi and were shot to death.
Baki linked the incident to the declaration of the SHP regional seat. He said it was an ambush.
“After the declaration, vehicles convoyed back to Mendi from Mt Hagen,” he said.
“The Koroba police officers were also on the road heading back to Hela when the incident happened. Two vehicles blocked them from the front and back.”
Baki said the two policemen were shot at close range while others managed to escape.
“One police officer is fighting for his life in hospital, one of the two civilians travelling with them was found in a nearby village, while one is still missing,” he said.
“This had nothing to do with police work. My officers were killed because of politics. Police have been faithfully providing security and maintaining peace during the elections. At the end, people turn around and shoot my officers.
“Despite the fact that they were mistaken for the officers supporting the governor, it still does not give the right to anyone to shoot and kill police officers.”
Baki blamed the killings of the four police officers (including two earlier in Enga) to the “inconsistency in the decisions made by the Electoral Commissioner”.
“It was the way the electoral officers ran the election that also contributed to the deaths of the policemen,” he said.
“My man were killed for no reason at all.
“And I as the commissioner will not rest till I have arrested the killers.”
Baki also confirmed that the police station commander and the provincial police commander have left Mendi for safety reasons.
Doctors at the Mendi Provincial Hospital are also planning to leave after the staff at the hospital and the School of Nursing were threatened.
The National Airports Corporation in a circular advised airlines and stakeholders that the Mendi airport will be closed for an indefinite period.

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