Police have opened fire on protesting students in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, injuring at least ten.
The students had intended to travel to parliament house to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Peter O-Neill when they were reportedly fired at by police forces.
Activist leader Noel Anjo described the morning’s events, “Students met at the university for breakfast around 7 o’clock. Around 8 o’clock buses arrived to take them to parliament buildings three or four kilometres away.”
Anjo described the protests as peaceful, “We were not marching! There were no banners. Some of the students wore black- that is the Papua New Guinea style. They wore black because they were in mourning for Papua New Guinea”.
Anjo described the scene as police arrived at the campus, set up a roadblock and began to attack students, “I saw at least four injured myself, but there were many, many injured.”
The number of casualties remains unclear although images of what appear to be dead bodies and injured protesters have been published by social media activists in the country. Papua New Guinea’s parliament has reportedly been informed of the deaths of four students.
Anjo claimed to be en route to the local hospital to ascertain the number of injured and possibly killed.
‘I have not been able to confirm (the number of injured). I have been speaking to the international media for the last two hours”.
Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O-Neill has been facing a steady tide of protest in recent weeks over allegations of corruption and economic incompetence. Students have played a major role, boycotting classes and petitioning for O-Neill's removal. However, Anjo claims the protest movement is a mixture of students and civil society.
“We are now calling for the police commissioner to resign along with the prime minister…(students) are the future of Papua New Guinea. They should not be assaulted and attacked in the street”.
The office of Prime Minister Peter O-Neill has been contacted for comment by Maori Television but has yet to respond at the time of publishing.
The New Zealand High Commission in Port Moresby has issued a warning to New Zealanders in PNG, citing unconfirmed reports of deaths along with associated looting and unrest other parts of Port Moresby.