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Monday 26 September 2016

Police shoot students protesting against Papua New Guinea's 'corrupt' Prime Minister

Rod McGuirk

Published 08/06/2016 | 06:41

An injured man assisted by others at the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, June 8, 2016. Noel Anjok/Social Media Handout via REUTERS
An injured man assisted by others at the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, June 8, 2016. Noel Anjok/Social Media Handout via REUTERS
Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill pauses before making an address to the Lowy Institute in Sydney November 29, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne/File Photo

Police have shot students protesting against Papua New Guinea's prime minister in the South Pacific nation's capital of Port Moresby.

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Australia's foreign minister Julie Bishop said she had been told by Australia's embassy in Port Moresby of the violence as hundreds of students prepared to march from the University of PNG to Parliament.

"I know that students have been shot, but we're still trying to determine whether there have been deaths and how many have been injured," Ms Bishop told reporters.

"We call on all sides to be calm and to de-escalate the tension and certainly call on all sides to respect the peaceful and lawful right to protest."

The students have been demanding for weeks that Prime Minister Peter O'Neill resign because of alleged corruption and mismanagement.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that a politician told Parliament that four students had been killed and seven wounded.

Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill pauses before making an address to the Lowy Institute in Sydney November 29, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne/File Photo
Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill pauses before making an address to the Lowy Institute in Sydney November 29, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne/File Photo

Gary Juffa spoke to students after the shooting and was told "one of the students got killed instantly and others are in serious and critical conditions," his personal assistant Joe Duhube told AP.

There were also complaints of other forms of police brutality against the students at a police roadblock erected outside the university.

Waliagai Olewale, a reporter at the local National Broadcasting Corporation, said armed police in 20 vehicles clashed with hundreds of students. Most of the students were eventually chased back on to the campus late in the morning, she said.

She could not confirm that anyone was shot.

"There was a lot of force that was used on students," she told AP. "Students were pushed and shoved, they were beaten up, there were gunshots."

Student Gerald Peni told ABC that police "fired shots directly at the crowd".

He said: "They fired tear gas. I was right in front and many of the students, they fell, they got injured."

Police spokesman Domonic Kakas said he could not immediately comment and would issue a statement later on Wednesday.

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