PNG police shoot looters in race riots
May 20, 2009 - 9:44AM
Papua New Guinean police have shot four looters while on high alert amid continuing anti-Chinese tensions across the country.
Since the weekend, police have shot four men in attempts to stop the ongoing violence directed at Asian-run stores in the Highlands region, PNG's Post Courier newspaper reports.
Fears of more rioting and looting continue in the Highland region with Mt Hagen in Western Highland Province effectively closed by police, who have had to fire warning shots to disperse crowds.
Shops, banks and other institutions shut their doors on Monday and Tuesday as would-be looters and trouble-makers marched through the streets.
In similar scenes throughout the region, Goroka, Wabag and Simbu towns have a high police presence with Chinese-run shops shut or with armed security guards.
Lae police told PNG's National newspaper one looter was shot dead while another was trampled in a stampede on Thursday.
The trouble started in the capital Port Moresby on Wednesday last week when an anti-Chinese march attended by 100 people ended in violence and looting.
The following day, looters attacked Chinese-run shops in Lae, PNG's second biggest city.
Madang, on PNG's northwest coast, experienced looting and anti-Chinese violence on Thursday.
In a separate incident in the same week, PNG workers clashed with management at the Chinese-run Ramu nickel mine in Madang Province, on the northeast coast, after a worker was injured by a tractor.
Police have played down the groundswell of resentment as "copycat attacks" by "opportunists".
But Opposition Leader Mekere Morauta said in a statement: "There is a feeling of anxiety and frustration, a feeling of being left out and being ignored by a government working in total isolation of its people".
Many in PNG feel an influx of "new Chinese" has squeezed them out of small-scale business.
Others complain about working for ruthless Chinese bosses who impose tough conditions.
Allegations of a rise in Chinese organised crime and corruption involving PNG officials have also added to community anger.