By PETER PIA and PISAI GUMAR
CLASSES at the University of Technology (Unitech) in Lae were disrupted again yesterday after Sepik students, claiming that nobody had attended to their petition, attacked students from Chimbu as early as 11am.
The Sepik students had petitioned the Unitech administration and council after the death of a first-year applied physics student and the injury of two others in a fight with students from Chimbu three weeks ago.
Their petition called for:
*Kuima Security Services Ltd to withdraw its services from the university;
*Current university administration to be sidelined and a caretaker administration appointed to investigate the fight and death;
*Perpetrators to face the full force of law; and
*Effective security measures to be put in place to complete the academic year.
On Monday, the university administration and police had assured students from other provinces and abroad that there would not be any disruption to classes and that their safety was guaranteed.
However, this changed yesterday morning when students attending classes fled in fear for their lives when a group students, who refused to go for classes, mobilised and attacked those from Chimbu.
A final-year civil engineering student, who requested anonymity, told The National from Lae that they had fled their classrooms at about 11am when a group of students, who were armed, threatened his course mates from the highlands region.
“It all happened during our lectures.
“A group of Sepik students arrived and threatened an Eastern Highlander and two others.
“Police arrived and restored order,” he said.
“All Chimbu students packed their belongings and left early yesterday morning,” he added.
The source said the university administration and council must be blamed for not solving the problem fully and effectively.
The university suspended classes for the rest of yesterday and today “with the hope to recommence thereafter”.
“In the meantime, police have reassured that security on campus is intact and the incident had been attended to,” Vice-Chancellor Dr Misty Baloiloi said.
He said the administration of law and order on campus had been given to the metropolitan commander and “police were handling the issues of security on campus in the best way they know”.
He told the students that the provincial administrators of East Sepik and Chimbu had agreed to travel to Lae and onto the campus to assist the students involved in the conflict reconcile.
Baloiloi appealed to the students to cooperate with police and the administration to ensure the operations of the university was not affected, “especially to conclude the academic year properly”.
The fighting was said to have started at the administration block at about 10.30am and started a melee.
Several students were reportedly injured and taken to Angau while several were arrested by police.
Neither the hospital nor police could say anything about the injured nor those arrested.
During the rush, criminals capitalised and attacked an expatriate academic from Japan.
He was held up with a pocket knife in broad daylight as people ran about.
The academic was traumatised and left the campus.
Meanwhile, students from Enga, Southern Highlands, Eastern Highlands, Western Highlands, Central and NCD and others have announced their intention to petition the national government for negligence and non-intervention in solving the problem.
They had called on the students representative council (SRC) to take the lead to ensure they complete this academic year.
Their petition called for the government to:
*Close this academic year and allow students to return and complete the remaining five weeks in early January;
*Tighten security with the police mobile squad setting up camp inside the campus; and
*An independent inquiry to be established to fully investigate the matter.
The students planned to send their representatives to Port Moresby either tomorrow or Friday to hand over their petition to the government.