Riots Breakout in Boroko, Police Deploy Tear Gas Amid Ongoing Unrest

PORT MORESBY - Riots have that swept through the main streets of the Papua New Guinea capital Port Moresby causing “great devastation”.

Salvation Army territorial commander Colonel Kelvin Alley said community services such as a supermarket, medical centre, dentist and chemist were burnt to the ground in the disturbances on Friday.

It was not clear what had prompted the riots but Alley, whose Salvation Army buildings were on the same area as the disturbances, said there were reports that the fires had been started deliberately.

“These places where people had jobs, jobs that were probably the only income to a large extended family. Gone,” he said in a statement.

“It is a crime against people who every day face the injustices of poverty and deprivation, who often seek out a living on the streets and markets, but who depend on these vital services.”

Alley said although the situation had eased, the city’s Boroko region had experienced “great devastation”.

“Now that calm has been restored, we are left with this terribly empty feeling due to the totally unnecessary loss and destruction of not just buildings, but buildings that represent vital services to people who desperately need them,” he said.

Alley described looting during the riots as “astounding”, with hundreds of people taking part in order to get their hands on free goods.

Kathy Testh, who works at the Mapang Missionary Home a few blocks away from the riots, said she woke up to the sound of gunshots.

Testh said she drove to a meeting only to return to find the main roads cordoned off and being manned by armed guards to stop more people entering the area.

Alley said several Salvation Army staff had taken ill after smoke inundated the buildings, located on the same street as the riots.

“Almost the entire business block across the road has been destroyed, unnecessarily by raging fires, rampant looting and out of control crowds,” he said.

He said the Salvation Army was committed to supporting the community to rebuild. (theguardian)
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