Allegedly Drunk Soldiers Rampage Near PNG Capital

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Homes burned, livestock killed, five men treated for wounds

By Ramcy Wama

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 2, 2013) – The Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) has come under scrutiny again over the illegal actions of its members.

In the latest incident PNGDF soldiers descended on the Seven-Mile block outside the national capital and attacked an Eastern Highlands community, setting fire to four homes, chopping pigs and burning domesticated animals including 1,500 two-week-old chicks and grown birds.

National Capital District (NCD) Superintendent Operations Perou Ndranou confirmed that the soldiers were under the influence of alcohol and destroyed the properties of innocent families and residents.

He said the action taken by the members of the disciplinary forces was uncalled for and would lead to people losing trust in them.

Five young men were treated for serious wounds at the Port Moresby General Hospital while another two were at home. Three other families lost everything they owned except for the clothes they were wearing that day.

In full view of workers at a PNG LNG camp site, the soldiers allegedly from the Taurama Barracks armed with guns, knives and sticks attacked the community.

Robert Gall, a spokesman from the affected community, said soldiers were becoming a threat to the public and authorities should take appropriate action against those involved.

"There is no command and control in the army as the soldiers at the barracks are becoming a serious threat to our community," he said.

According to Mr Gall, the raid was in response to an incident two weeks ago when an Eastern Highlands family member went to buy betel-nut and was attacked by drunken soldiers.

He returned home to get reinforcements and subsequently attacked the soldiers.

However the Eastern Highlands family members who attacked the soldiers were picked up and locked up by police and there was no need for retaliation.

But the PNGDF soldiers returned with the other members of the army and demanded K20,000 [US$8,246] from the families of those who attacked the soldiers, the confrontation eventually turning nasty and leading to the loss of their properties.

"They came back to collect the compensation. The policemen from the Six Mile police station came to the scene but they did nothing as the soldiers were fully armed and very violent," said Mr Gall.

Attempts to contact the PNGDF top brass for their comments were unsuccessful.

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