POLICE failed to carry out a body search on the wanted robber who blew himself, and a policewoman, up last Friday night in Mt Hagen city, Western Highlands province.
If the police had conducted the search and removed the hand grenade from him at the time of his arrest at the Wamp Nga fuel station the incident would not had happen.
However, Highlands divisional police commander and, ACP Simon Kauba, said yesterday that the situation did not allow time for his police officers to conduct a body search on the robber on the spot.
The robber, wanted by police for a string of criminal offences, including bank robbery, stealing and murder was identified as Pawa Moni from Kelua 2 village outside Mt Hagen city.
Police said he was aggressive and struggled to free himself.
At that time, there was a big crowd at the Wamp Nga fuel station.
He said that his officers had no time and were rushed to take Moni to the police station.
Mr Kauba said that his police officers put Moni quickly into the police vehicle and were about to take him to the police station and search him, when he took out a hand grenade out while he struggled with policewoman Selly Mol to escaped out of the front door where she was sitting when the pin of the grenade came off and exploded inside the vehicle.
He said that it was the function of the police to search suspects, escapees and hard core criminals on the spot where they were being arrested.
Mr Kauba said if the fuel station had blown up, hundreds of people at the scene would have been killed.
Mr Kauba appealed to all his provincial police commanders in the Highlands region to inform their police officers to do body searches on the scene of all arrests before putting suspects into police vehicles and taking them to the police station.
He said that he did not want to see such an incident repeated in the future and urged his police officers to take precautionary measures when dealing with hard-core criminals or any other offenders.