By Stanley Ove Jnr – EMTV News, Alotau
Members of the Mobile Squad Unit 2 deployed to Alotau over the recent rise in criminal activities have told EMTV News their side of the story to the Kitava Incident.
Speaking to EMTV News this afternoon, they said the criminal elements that are still at large are using locals as scapegoats to prevent police from catching them.
An officer said on Thursday, they were in persuit of a stolen vehicle that drove into Kitava Compound. When they arrived they were met with heavy fire from the criminal gang that fled to higher grounds behind the compound.
“We were fired upon with high powered rifles, we took cover because we were pinned down and couldn’t return fire,” an officer who wanted to remain anonymous said.
It was there they heard a woman shouting for help in her home.
“We thought she was held hostage, so we snuck into her home to ‘clear the area’ and found out that she was shot in the stomach” said the officer.
The woman was then put on the unit vehicle and rushed to the hospital while some of the MS members remained to clear the area.
“We have wives and children ourselves, we will never harm innocent men, women and children,” said the officer.
“As for the elderly woman that was killed, she was found dead behind where we were pinned down. Obviously we were concentrating on the shots that were fired infront of us from the hills, it was unfortunate that woman died,” said the officer
While they couldn’t comment on the burning of the houses, they said the community must take heed of such situations and assist the police in catching these criminals.
Alotau MP and Deputy PM Charles Abel was briefed of the incident but was not happy on how the officers conducted themselves with the burning of houses.
“The police are here to stay, and sometimes we will not agree with how they conduct their operations but as a leader I must stand firm to help put a stop to all these criminal activities that are happening in Alotau,” said Mr Abel.
Meanwhile Mr Able recieved a petition from the Kitava Residents today that demanded compensation and the removal of the MS2 Unit stationed in Alotau.
“I have recieved their petition but like I said the police are here to stay. For now we will assist with the humanitarian side of the issue. I will see to it that these people and victims of the incident are looked after and a given the necessary tools to rebuild their homes and lives,” Mr Abel said.