On Saturday, the 22nd of June, Constables Glenn Jimmy, Alex Kopa and Mathew Kasap from Madang were shot in Wabag town.
All three, members of the Mt. Hagen based Mobile squad 6 sent to Enga for the election operations.
The three policemen were shot with an M16 rifle outside a local inn where the Hagen based Mobile Squad 6 had been camping. They were caught in a cross fire and shot by retreating gunmen supporting one of the candidates for the Kandep Open seat.
The trio were rushed to Wabag General Hospital Emergency Unit for treatment. In the process of stabilising them, Glenn Jimmy and Alex Kopa died of their injuries.
Their shooting occurred hours after the vehicle belonging to the returning officer for Kandep was shot.
Eyewitnesses reported that the armed men ambushed the vehicle near the police barracks in Wabag and opened fire on it. Four passengers including the RO and two seated at the back were seriously injured.
A rapid response unit managed to rush the four men to the hospital, however, they were unable to catch the gunmen.
Tensions were brewing between factions supporting candidates for Kandep, Alfred Manaseh and the sitting MP, Don Polye. Police report now revealed that the warring factions belonged to Alfred Manasseh and Don Polye. The issue of conflict: the uncounted ballot boxes for Kandep and the delays in the counting.
On Saturday, security personnel managed to stop the fighting. However, as the armed men from one of the Candidate’s side retreated towards the inn, two of the gunmen opened fired at the three policemen when they walked out of the gate.
Other members of the unit quickly responded and shot dead the two gunmen.
Investigations have begun. On Sunday, Police Commissioner, Gari Baki travelled to Wabag to assess the situation.
MS 6 returned to Mt Hagen yesterday. Bodies of the two fallen constables are at a funeral home in Goroka and the other officer is receiving treatment at a hospital in Port Moresby.
This afternoon, Police Commissioner, Gari Baki, said counting will resume in Wabag.
These are the first police deaths in election violence.