The National, Monday July 15th, 2013
By BENNY GETENG
A MEDICAL student was hospitalised when staff and students at the UPNG Medical Faculty in Port Moresby were attacked by soldiers over the weekend.
An isolated incident at the Port Moresby General Hospital last Friday afternoon between a medical student and two soldiers resulted in a full-scale raid when soldiers turned up in numbers later on that day, Saturday and again yesterday and assaulted security guards and students.
Yesterday, a meeting to mediate peace turned nasty with shots were fired and students assaulted, police reported yesterday.
Acting police commissioner and chief of police operations Simon Kauba condemned the attack.
Kauba said soldiers armed with bush knives, iron bars and firearms drove in a military Toyota flat top to the hospital premises at around 1pm yesterday where they broke down the hospital gates (leading into the medical faculty) and indiscriminately assaulting people and began damaging property.
At least six shots were fired during the incident. Police arrived on the scene and brought the matter under control.
One dental student was seriously assaulted and admitted to hospital while considerable damage was done to hospital property.
“This is totally uncalled for and unacceptable behaviour by members of a disciplined organisation. I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms and will ensure that it is thoroughly investigated and those responsible will face the full force of the law,” Kauba said.
According to security personnel manning the premises, the soldiers actions followed a commotion between defence personnel and a student from the UPNG medical faculty at the ATM machines housed at the front of the hospital.
A heated exchange occurred between a student and two soldiers at that time resulting in a scuffle.
The soldiers then returned later with their comrades and started assaulting four security guards at the gate along with any students they managed to find.
Other witnesses at the scene said the soldiers they returned on Saturday and again yesterday and there were fierce exchange of stones, bottles and sticks.
A medical worker said yesterday that some of the soldiers came in the morning and were in the process of sorting out the matter when an argument occurred and the reconciliation meeting was broken off. Soldiers then returned at 1pm and attacked the campus.
The events unfolded in full view of the public and doctors, nursing staff, security personnel, patients and their guardians and motorists.
The medical officer spoken to expressed concern that members of a disciplined force could terrorise citizens in this manner and while wielding knives and firearms.
“PNG is sick and tired of hearing news of discipline forces getting involved in this kind of incidents throughout the nation and hopefully the PNGDF hierarchy and the national leaders condemn this kind of behaviour by the disciplined forces,” he said.
NCD/Central Divisional Commander ACP Jim Andrews said: “Police officers did intervene to resolve the situation and are aware of the incident.”
“Police investigations as of today will be able to properly identify the exact cause of the alleged incident that happened and that a full result of the investigations will be made known.”
Kauba has contacted PNGDF officials about the incident and raised this concern.
Military and NCD police are now investigating the incident.
Kauba said it was unfortunate when soldiers attacked the very people they had sworn to protect and defend.
The medical faculty is scheduled as one of the places that will be visited by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd this morning.
However, it could not be confirmed last night whether the visit would happen now after yesterday’s incident.