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By Clifford Faiparik

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 1) – Police shot dead three students and injured about 20 others in a clash at the Porgera top-up primary school in Enga yesterday.

One of the students, believed to be aged between 14 and 16, died at the scene while the other two died in hospital.

All three were shot in the stomach while the others were hit in the legs, according to a Porgera hospital official.

The Porgera Development Corporation’s building next to the school was burnt down and its Sri Lankan manager is missing.

The clash was sparked off on Friday after the headmaster and his deputy allegedly got drunk and harassed the public.

Police Deputy Commissioner (Operation) Gari Baki said yesterday that some people complained to the local police who tried to arrest the headmaster but he resisted.

They went to the school the next day but found their way blocked by some students.

"This morning (Monday), they went to the school again and were met by rocks and other solid objects thrown by students," Mr. Baki told The National.

"After about 30 minutes, seeing that their lives were being threatened, the police opened fire to disperse the surrounding crowd.

"One student was killed while the others died later in the hospital."

He said he was waiting for more information from provincial commander Chief Supt Teddy Tei.

The chairman of the Porgera Development Corporation, Nixon Mangape, expressed concern over the fate of manager Alex Doinagu.

"We are still searching for him," he said when contacted late in the day.

He said the fire destroyed the building and everything inside, including Mr. Doinagu’s vehicle.

Mr. Mangape claimed that the headmaster led some students to ask the district administrator yesterday morning to get the police to return PGK900 (US$307) confiscated from him last week.

The administrator refused and the headmaster and students left, he said.

Just before noon, the police went to the school again to arrest the headmaster and the clash erupted.

"The headmaster mobilized the students to throw objects at the police," Mr. Mangape said.

Akali Tange Association chairman James Wangla condemned the police for using excessive force and opening fire at the school grounds.

He said the students were in the midst of their examinations and were angered by the police’s attempt to arrest the headmaster.

November 2, 2005

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