TWO suspects were shot dead and a policeman wounded in a failed attempt to rob a restaurant in downtown Port Moresby yesterday afternoon. A third member of the gang was wounded while at least two other members of the gang escaped.
The policeman, who was first onto the scene after responding to a call, was rushed to the hospital after he was shot in the abdomen by the suspects.
Members of the top police hierarchy, including metropolitan commander Supt Fred Yakasa, were last night arranging to have the critically-injured cop operated on.
Both Supt Yakasa and his deputy Andy Bawa were at the crime scene in town.
The gang had targetted the Ricksaw Restaurant at the corner of Musgrave and Douglas streets.
Police said the gang, armed with high-powered firearms, entered the restaurant and held up the workers and diners.
As the robbery was underway, a worker in the restaurant alerted police.
A unit which was patrolling the area was the first on the scene.
As the gang came out of the restaurant, they open fired at police, critically wounding the policeman.
Police shot and killed two members of the gang. A third was seriously injured and at least two others escaped.
It is not clear if money or anything was taken from the restaurant. Betelnut and cigarette vendors outside the restaurant and at the town bus stop area fled for cover amid the gunfire exchange.
Apart from the injured policeman, no other police personnel or members of the public were injured.
Supt Yakasa and Mr Bawa commended their men for responding to the crime call in a swift manner.
“You have done well under tough conditions,” he told his men who were securing the crime scene as police forensic experts were brought in to investigate further.
Supt Yakasa told The National that the suspects killed were wanted criminals.
“These are wanted criminals who have carried out a number of robberies and car jacking in the city. They are very dangerous.”
Police said there had been two vehicle thefts earlier in the day and on Saturday, and they believed a robbery was imminent.
They said a planned robbery at the major shop was foiled because of increased police surveillance.
One of the stolen vehicles was recovered at Ela Beach yesterday.