by Scott Waide – EM TV, Lae
Two people have been shot by police in attempts to disperse looters who tried to raid seven shops that burned overnight in Mt. Hagen City.
One of those killed is understood to be a high school student who was at the scene this morning when police opened fire. At least one resident said the student was shot during clashes between members of the public and police.
Police, defence and CS officers were called to the scene last night and have remained at the fire scene for the last 15 hours in efforts to prevent hundreds of looters from taking advantage of the situation.
The fire is understood to have started in a popular restaurant in the heart of the city. As the night drew on, more buildings were consumed by the flames. Buildings belonging to including Chemica, Highlands Pokies and Yoshi’s secondhand shop were destroyed in a space of 4 hours.
The Lae Chamber of Commerce has since issued a warning to travelers to refrain from travelling to other parts along the highway because police attention is currently focused on Mt. Hagen. Police have also asked all business houses in Hagen to remain closed until further notice.
“It’s a siege like situation,” said one resident. “There are up to 10 police cars in the city centre and roads have en blocked off.”