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Police torch stores, homes, properties in Hagen

By Neville Togarewa PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 4, 2011) – In Papua New Guinea, Mt. Hagen police allegedly shot dead an escaped convicted murderer and torched trade stores, homes and properties of innocent people worth tens of thousands of kina at a popular market on the fringes of the city on Friday night.

According to eyewitnesses, more than a dozen armed policemen arrived in three 10-seater Toyota land cruisers at Kamanga Buai Market at about 8.30pm, cornered and shot the convicted prison escapee three times, killing him on the spot then torched and destroyed the properties for no apparent reason.

An eyewitness told the Post Courier that the victims of the raid intend to sue the police and the State for what he described as deliberate and wanton destruction of properties of innocent people by the police.

Another eyewitness, Mark Lawi, 25, of Paglimb village, named the deceased escaped convict as Samuel Manda, in his mid-20s, from the Jiga Aglimb tribe of Kala village a few kilometers from Mt Hagen city.

"The police surrounded (Manda) and shot him on the knee from the back. He collapsed on the ground. He was lying on the ground when the police shot him the second time. They shot him the third time on the chest and he died on the spot," Mr. Lawi told the Post-Courier.

According to Mr. Lawi, the late Manda had escaped some years ago from Baisu jail where he was kept for shooting an Australian pilot, Captain Alan Mourily, in front of the Telikom exchange building on Mt Hagen Drive on May 28, 2004. However, this could not be verified by either Mt Hagen police or Baisu jail authorities.

Mr. Lawi said Manda was on the most wanted list since he escaped from Baisu and the police had shot and wounded him several times on different occasions but he had always managed to escape until Friday night.

"About 15 minutes after shooting Manda, the police started burning down trade stores, homes, second-hand clothes outlets, including four containers that had been converted into trade stores, and a white Suzuki vehicle," he said.

"They burnt everything to the ground for no reason at all. We are innocent victims of police harassment and brutality," Mr. Lawi said.

Provincial Police Commander Chief Supt Kaiglo Ambane and ACP Simon Kauba could not be reached for comment.

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