By JAMES APA GUMUNO
A POLICEWOMAN was killed when a suspected bank robber and killer accidentally blew himself up with a hand grenade while being arrested in Mt Hagen last Friday night.
Three other policemen were also critically injured in the explosion inside a police vehicle at the Wamp Nga fuel station in Western Highlands province.
The man, wanted by police for a string of criminal offences, including bank robbery and murder, was identified as Pawa Moni, 35, from Kelua 2 village, outside Mt Hagen city.
The policewoman was identified as Selly Mol, 25, from Waghi bridge in the North Waghi district.
She was married to Tony Taia, a teacher from Kerowagi district, Simbu province.
Ms Mol leaves two children, her first born son David, two, and four-month-old baby girl Kala.
Western Highlands police commander ACP Simon Kauba said on Saturday morning Moni was wanted for robbing Bank South Pacific’s automatic telling machine (ATM) in Lae in 2006 and the murder of a security guard last year.
The Guard Dog Security officer was killed during an armed robbery at the Mainland Holdings office in Dobel.
ACP Kauba said Moni was also wanted for breaking into the office of Niugini Oli in Mt Hagen a few years ago, fleeing with K41,000 in valuables and cash.
He said Moni had gone into hiding until Friday when he was spotted in a PMV bus at the petrol kiosk.
Following a tip-off between 6.30pm and 7pm, ACP Kauba said the nightshift policemen and Ms Mol rushed to the fuel station and ordered Moni out of the bus. “They put Moni into the police vehicle but they failed to search him properly,” ACP Kauba said.
Ms Mol then got into the front seat with the driver, Const Donald Mata.
“Moni jumped from his back seat, took out a hand grenade and struggled to escape through the front side of the vehicle where Ms Mol was seated.
“In the struggle, the hand grenade’s pin came off.
“Const Mata then opened the door and jumped out.
“Unfortunately, he and the other two policemen at the back were all critically injured,” ACP Kauba said.
He said Ms Mol could not make it out on time and she was also killed in the explosion with Moni inside the police vehicle.
ACP Kauba described Ms Mol as a dedicated policewoman and “we are all very sad to lose such a dedicated member of the force”.
He said Chief Sgt Pius Nukundi, First Const Paul Pora and First Const Mata were admitted to Mt Hagen General Hospital’s surgical ward in critical conditions.
Moni’s remains were removed from the police vehicle on Saturday morning and sent to the hospital mortuary.
The Mt Hagen general duty counter was closed on Saturday morning for a few hours after the explosion.
Curious Mt Hagen city residents and villagers, who heard about the incident, turned up at the scene in droves to get a closer look at the body in the police vehicle.
Police barricaded the main road between the Wamp Nga fuel station and International Education Academy (IEA).
The road was cleared to traffic after Moni’s remains were removed at about 10am.