20 May 2009

PNG police confirm one death as anti-Chinese violence continues in Mt Hagen

1:34 pm on 20 May 2009

Papua New Guinea police say they can only confirm one death as a result of riots directed at Chinese businesspeople around the country.

However the Post Courier newspaper reports four looters have been shot since the violence began a week ago.

Fears of more rioting and looting continue in the Highlands, with Mt Hagen in Western Highland Province effectively closed by police who fired warning shots to disperse crowds.

A police spokesperson, Dominic Kakas, says a person died in Lae and is thought to have been trampled when a rioting crowd was confronted by police.

Shops, banks and other institutions shut their doors on Monday and Tuesday as would-be looters and trouble makers marched through the streets.

In similar scenes throughout the region, Goroka, Wabag and Simbu towns have a high police presence with Chinese-run shops shut or with armed security guards.

The trouble started in the capital Port Moresby a week ago when an anti-Chinese march attended by 100 people ended in violence and looting.

Police have played down the groundswell of resentment as copycat attacks by opportunists.

But the opposition leader, Sir Mekere Morauta, has said there is a feeling of anxiety and frustration, a feeling of being left out and being ignored by a government working in total isolation of its people.