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By James Apa Gumuno

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 2) – Relatives of a man from Laiagam in Enga province claims police and security guards at the Porgera gold mine shot and killed a man near the mine last Thursday.

But police alleged that he was an illegal miner who was among a group of men trespassing on the mine, in an open pit area looking for gold.

Provincial police commander Supt Michael Chare said yesterday that Amos Wakali was among a group of men who went into the open pit area of the mine searching for gold around 1pm last Thursday.

He said when police and security guards chased them away from the area, the illegal miners opened fire at them with guns believed to be factory-made.

He said police and security guards fired back, and a gun battle ensued for about five minutes.

Supt Chare said moments later, the illegal miners brought the body of the deceased to the security guards claiming that he was shot dead during the exchange.

He said the body of the deceased was taken to the Paiam Hospital for post mortem to determine the cause of death.

Supt Chare praised the relatives of the deceased in allowing the law to take its course, and not resorting to violence and road blocks.

He said the relatives had been patient in awaiting the outcome of the post mortem.

He said two police mobile squad units from Laiagam and Mt Hagen were deployed to the mine to monitor the tense situation on the ground, although he believed trouble at the mine was unlikely.

Wakali, in his 30s, is from the Tombe tribe in the Laiagam district.

Porgera mine authorities have repeatedly warned people against trespassing and illegally mining in the pit area, saying it was dangerous and these miners expose themselves to rock falls.

A number of people have been killed while illegally mining the area over the years, resulting in violence and threat on mine staff by relatives.

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