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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, June 5) – The Australian government has issued a travel warning to Australians planning to travel to PNG because "of the high levels of serious crimes" and election related violence.

The advice by the Australian department of foreign and trade (DFAT) also warned Australians about travelling to the Highlands region due to possibility of election related-violence.

The DFAT also warned Australians of the risks of contracting HIV/AIDS because of the high prevalence rate of the deadly disease.

"We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Papua New Guinea because of the high levels of serious crime," the Australian DFAT said in an advice posted on its website.

"We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea (Southern Highlands, Enga, Western Highlands, Simbu and Eastern Highlands provinces) as election-related violence, mainly between opposing clans and political groups, is likely during the period surrounding the national election.

"Australians could be inadvertently caught up in violence directed at others."

DFAT warned that "the crime rates are high in the capital Port Moresby and in other areas of Papua New Guinea, especially in Lae, Mt Hagen including other parts of the Highlands.

"Opportunistic crime is expected to increase during the election period."

DFAT said "settlement areas of towns and cities were particularly dangerous.

"Violence and use of bush knives (machetes) and firearms often accompany assault and theft attempts.

"Carjackings, assaults (including sexual assaults), bag snatching and robberies are common.

"There is a significant risk of robbery and carjacking in the area near Parliament House in the Waigani suburb of Port Moresby and along the highway between Lae and the Nadzab airport, particularly between Two and Nine Mile settlement areas.

"Walking after dark is particularly dangerous in Port Moresby and other urban centres. All travel at night should be made by car."

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