ARMED PNG POLICE IN STANDOFF OVER PAY

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 4) – Members of five police Mobile Squads (MS) want the government to immediately pay their "special operations" entitlements.

To press their claim, they staged an armed stand-off with the police hierarchy, who spent all of yesterday trying to find the money to pay the angry policemen.

The MS members, who have been residing at Bomana Police College, armed themselves on Wednesday night and stopped senior officers and other Bomana residents from driving in or out of the barracks.

Armed members of the group stood guard at the boom gate while others moved around the barracks, starting at 6.30pm on Wednesday and all of yesterday.

The blockade was staged by members of five Highlands-based mobile squads who had been engaged in recent major national events, including the country’s 30th Independence anniversary celebrations, Princess Anne’s Royal visit and the Pacific Islands Forum.

The rebel policemen want the Government to pay outstanding entitlements before they return to their posts in the provinces.

The Post-Courier understands that a parade scheduled for yesterday to officially farewell these policemen has been rescheduled to today. But by last night, police sources said this may not eventuate.

It is believed the stand-off — by about 200 members of the squads from Southern Highlands (MS10), Western Highlands (MS5), Chimbu (MS8), Eastern Highlands (MS14) and Morobe (MS13) — was meant to force authorities to speed up payment of their entitlements. It is understood Police Commissioner Sam Inguba late yesterday collected a cheque for the entitlements but this could not be confirmed last night.

Yesterday, members of the police hierarchy working in the city but live at Bomana were forced to take a day off because they were not allowed to drive out of the premises.

Attempts to get comments from Deputy Police Commissioner (operations) Gari Baki were unsuccessful .

The special services division at McGregor Barracks, which provided the close protection officers for the VIPs, says none of its members were involved in the stand-off. Police sources say the mess at the barracks was broken into during the stand-off on Wednesday night and a club was broken into yesterday evening and 20 cartons of beer are believed to be stolen.

It is believed the "disgruntled" mobile squad members have in their possession five vehicles, including one from the airborne tactical response unit.

November 7, 2005

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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