Families Homeless after Police Burn Houses in Search of Criminals

By Scott Waide – EMTV News, Lae

Police in Alotau burnt more than 12 houses early last night after they accused members of the settlement community of harboring criminals involved in an armed robbery hours earlier.

Residents at the Kitava Compound were forced out of their homes, questioned and then their homes set on fire.

One resident who didn’t want to be named told EMTV News that women and children who were in their homes were told to get out at gunpoint.

“We were surrounded by armed task force members. Firing everywhere. They brought us together and questioned us if we knew who these criminals were. They fired tear gas. Children were crying and we ran towards town. Later they Burned the houses, ransacked my house.”

EMTV is yet to confirm reports that an elderly woman was shot and killed in the attack.

Hours before the police attack, a local business was robbed by a group of criminals. Eyewitnesses said a vehicle was also stolen during the robbery and the criminals used it to escape.

EMTV has also received details from eyewitnesses who believe the criminals escaped through the Kitava Compound to draw police off their trail.

Scott Waide

is the Lae Bureau Chief and began his career with EMTV in 1997 as a News and Sports Reporter and Anchor and has been a media professional for over 19 years. Having previously worked as a Producer and Researcher for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Port Moresby Bureau, he is a recipient of multiple awards including the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union Prize in 2005 in Iran for best news feature, the Pacific Island News Association Award and the Divine Word University Media Freedom Award.

Scott Waide