Airport shooting leaves 3 injured

Main Stories, National


THREE people were wounded in an attempted murder drama that unfolded at the Jackson Airport last Friday morning.
Four gunmen, allegedly from the rich Moran oil project area in Southern Highlands, went to the domestic terminal to challenge a landowner chairman and his officers who were scheduled to board a plane for Moro to attend the launch of the Moran Special Purpose Authority (MSPA).
Finding their target gone, the suspects turned on the public, wounding two before police also wounded one of them.
Among the delegation travelling to Moro that morning was MSPA chairman Tony Kila, local MP Francis Potape, deputy commissioner of police operations Anthony Wagambie, journalists and government officials.
The National was also at the airport bound for Moro when the incident took place.
The MSPA is voted into office by the Homa-Pawa and Baguale people through their 33 incorporated land groups. Recently, a new board headed by Kila was elected into office, replacing that of former chairman David Mulungu.
While it was alleged that the airport shooting could have stemmed from the changes within the authority, it could not be confirmed with police and local authorities.
Reports said the attackers had gone to the airport armed with three firearms.
At the airport, one of the gunmen produced a handgun from a side bag and shot a bystander on the chest in front of the domestic terminal entrance. He then fired another shot into the air.
Another suspect, armed with an assault rifle and a shoulder-link belt filled with cartridges, stood up from the back of a Ford Ranger parked at the public car park and shot at the public.
A lone policeman within the vicinity of the incident retaliated and fired two warning shots at the gunman, urging him to surrender. Instead, the shooting continued and another man from the Highlands was shot just below the shoulders.
The gunman then alighted from the vehicle and took cover behind another car, believed to belong to PNG Gardener Justin Tkatchenko, and more shots were fired with a total of 27 bullet holes counted on the vehicle.
The drama lasted for about 20 minutes before the suspect was shot just below his knees and disarmed.
The gunman, after being disarmed and in agony, kept shouting that he was prepared to die for his land and for his brother.
He was later sent to the Port Moresby General Hospital.
Two people, believed to be a father and son, apart from the wounded gunman, were taken into police custody.
Police at the scene also retrieved the assault rifle, 27 live cartridges and the shoulder-link belt and a handgun used in the attack.
Police believed the weapons used in the attack were registered to a landowner company.
Police bail was denied yesterday.
ACP Wagambie tagged the airport incident as “politics of economy” where, he said, the landowners were fighting over who should control the funds.
Air Niugini’s Jack Pidik blamed Civil Aviation Authority for the incident after a similar incident took place last month when a gold buyer was murdered inside the terminal.
He said that there had been many calls to improve security at the main entrance to the airport but nothing had happened.
Meanwhile, reports from Homa-Pawa said many pigs were killed and the planned celebration went well without any disturbances despite the incident.