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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (August 3, 2000 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---The country’s police force has come under criticism by residents for being "brutes" and "trigger happy" after three young men were allegedly gunned down by police.

A 16-year-old boy was fatally shot as he walked home last weekend. It was the third shooting death caused by the police in as many weeks.

Catholic Church Secretary Lawrence Stevens said the police are taking a relaxed attitude toward the shootings.

"One of the adopted mothers of the child killed said, ‘Now we can’t send our kids out in the evenings because anyone caught in the street is criminal and would be shot dead,’" Stevens said.

"There’s great concern in the community over what’s happening," he said. "On the one hand, people are concerned about the crime rate. And they’re concerned that there are people among the police who are behaving badly."

Residents are getting cynical toward the police, Stevens said.

"We generally have a good police force and we generally have the highest respect for our policeman. But we are concerned and anxious to see a change in attitude," he added.

This is not just a Papua New Guinea issue since the country’s police force is trained and funded by other countries, he said.

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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