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By Agnes Peter

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 21) – Two primary school teachers and a three-year-old girl were shot and wounded by criminals at the Wards Strip Primary School in Port Moresby during an armed hold-up yesterday morning.

The incident occurred at about 8:15 a.m. when the headmistress of Bomama Primary School, Nerrie Birao, 53, from New Ireland province, was driving into the school grounds to attend a week-long in-service training at Wards Strip for teachers in the zone six area.

Mrs Birao was shot on the leg and her male colleague, Timothy Wavick, from East Sepik province was shot in the buttocks when he tried to distract the criminals.

The daughter of the school’s security guard, who was near the gate, also received a bullet wound on her shoulder.

Police arrived at the scene five minutes after the incident.

Mrs Birao said she was approached by two men immediately after she drove into the parking area, who demanded her to hand over the car keys.

"I thought some of my colleagues were playing a joke on me so I ignored them, got out of the vehicle, locked it and started walking towards the school gate. I realised that it was not a prank when I was pulled back by the meri-blouse by the man with the pistol," Mrs Birao recalled.

She gave the keys to the gunman but, by then, the other teachers who were busy chatting at the gate realised what was going on and started throwing stones at the criminals.

The criminals retaliated and shot the two teachers and the little girl.

The thieves got away in Mrs Birao’s car, a Nissan Sunny, which is yet to be recovered.

The victims were rushed to the hospital by a school inspector and are in stable conditions.

"The doctors have checked our wounds and said we would be alright. We are very lucky that the bullets did not go through our bones or nerves; it just penetrated the flesh," Mrs Birao said.

Yesterday’s in-service training session was suspended as a result of the incident.

The training is being attended by 183 teachers from the Bomana, Wards Strip, Coronation, Boreboa and Kay primary schools.

September 21, 2006

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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