A PNG police chief says no choice but to use guns in protest
Police shoot at protesting students in PNG's Goroka but deny hitting them.
The police chief in Eastern Highlands in Papua New Guinea has defended his officers firing at students during a protest Goroka.
The Goroka University students have been demanding the resignation of the vice chancellor by staging sit-ins on the campus for nearly 3 weeks but on Thursday took to the streets.
Several people were hurt but the provincial police commander, Superintendent John Kale, told Don Wiseman they were not shot as had previously been reported.
JOHN KALE: The students at the university in Goroka were not happy about the administration, and they decided to do a sit-in boycott since the 10th of August. And yesterday they decided to walk throgh the street, and when they came to the town, our police opfficers spoke to them and told them that the'r protest march on the street is illegal. So we stopped them and in the process of stopping them there was a little bit of gunfire...
DON WISEMAN: From police?
JK: From police, yeah. Before the gun was fired the students threw stones at policemen, provoking them, and so the police decided to disperse them.
DW: What happened as a result of the gunfirem because we understand two students have been hospitalised.
JK: Yes, correct. But not two. Three (students). One female and two male. But that was not as a result of gun wound. That was... they received injuries from other missiles and one fell on the tarmac and got himself injured.
DW: And so no one was hit by a bullet fired by police?
DW: Why were police firing guns at students?
JK: Firstly, the march was illegal. They're not supposed to march on to the street, they're supposed to get permission. They wrote to me (seeking permission) and I told them that was not allowed.
DW: Yes but if you then confront them with guns, isn't that just slightly heavy-handed?
JK: Well, you only have a handful of policemen and just imagine the number of students that are walking on the street. You cannot stop them with your word of mouth or with a baton.
DW: How many people were marching?
JK: Well about a thousand of them, and the general public in Goroka were also taking sides, they joined the students and they started throwing stones and other missiles at the policemen.
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