PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 29, 2001 – The National)---Staff members at the University of PNG (UPNG) claimed on Wednesday that armed policemen entered the Waigani campus and shot at students, resulting in the death of three students.

The staff members, in a press release issued through the National Academic Staff Association, joined the call for an inquiry into the students’ deaths and the police action.

In the press statement, signed by three of the association's senior executives, the association said the inquiry should not be initiated by police for fear the outcome might not be impartial.

"It is obvious that riot squad police forcefully entered the premises of the Waigani campus of UPNG in the early hours of Tuesday morning and opened fire on the Talaigu accommodation hall and the UPNG administration building," the press release said.

"As a result of this attack and the ensuing clash with the police, many students were injured and three died.

"We condemn this police action in the strongest possible terms. The Government, its executive and the law enforcing officers, in this case the acting Police Commissioner and his office, should be held responsible for the injuries sustained and deaths."

It added: "We believe that the riot squad flown in from Mt. Hagen and Kerowagi were responsible for the shootings. These squads were not needed to contain the protest, which had been peaceful and well controlled by the National Capital District police."

"We are aware that the students killed by police are from different parts of Papua New Guinea and sympathize with their parents and relatives.

"We now call upon the Office of the Prime Minister and the National Executive Council to immediately establish a Commission of Inquiry with wide terms of reference to establish the facts behind the deaths and injuries.

"We hope that in this darkest hour of PNG's history common sense and the rule of law will prevail, and justice must be seen to be served in a very transparent manner, through a commission of Inquiry," the association said.

For additional reports from The National, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The National (Papua New Guinea).

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