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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post Courier, September 9) – Morning travellers were shocked when a police pistol went off in the domestic terminal of the Jacksons Airport, in Port Moresby yesterday.

The police issued weapon of one of three policemen going to Chimbu Province, went off while it was being checked before the flight out of Port Moresby.

Under the required procedures of the Civil Aviation Authority, the weapon was supposed to have been emptied of its ammunition outside the terminal.

This means its magazine which contains the bullets should have been removed from the pistol’s chamber.

There were no injuries but a bullet hit a cleaner’s broom, a spade and shards of plastic grazed a traveler in the terminal.

Acting chief executive officer of Civil Aviation Authority Joseph Kintau said the accidental discharge of the weapon was a serious matter under the Aviation Authority rules.

"The police officer failed to follow proper procedures to clear the weapon before checking it in at the firearms clearance and lodgment point," Mr Kintau said.

Deputy police commissioner of operations Gari Baki, who was on his way to Mendi for the state of emergency, said he was shocked by the incident. "It was negligence. It was supposed to be cleared (unloaded). When they went in, it was given to another police officer and he was in the process of cocking it — to check if unloaded — when the weapon went off."

Mr Kintau advised that a new location within the terminal has been identified to relocate the firearms clearance and lodgment point, to be away from the baggage screening point. It is expected to be in use next month.

September 11, 2006

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