PNG soldiers shock with Boroko street takeover in security uproar

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PNG Defence Force soldiers keep watch after running riot in the Port Moresby suburb of Boroko
PNG Defence Force soldiers keep watch after running riot in the Port Moresby suburb of Boroko on Thursday. Image: Simon Keslep/PNG Post-Courier

PNG Post-Courier

A small speeding vehicle allegedly driven by an off-duty soldier set off a chain reaction this week that saw two security guards taken to hospital and the burning of a vehicle belonging to the security company.

Guards from the Alpha Response Security firm and two PNG Defence Force sailors from Basilisk Naval base in downtown Port Moresby were recorded on video on Thursday morning in a heated argument that turned physical.

The reaction was instantaneous as more than 25 sailors arrived in a bus and destroyed two vehicles, burned a vehicle and put two guards in hospital.

In an all too familiar sight, the scene of soldiers ruling the roads of Boroko was again played out with the public staying far away and gunshots heard as businesses along the Hubert Murray Highway kept their doors locked.

Police stayed clear.

The fear was evident as chatter from the public was kept at a minimum.

Soldiers have once again taken over the streets of Boroko because of confrontations — like they did in 2016.

‘It will be dealt with’
The PNGDF hierarchy comes out with the same response of “it will be dealt with” and then no word, no report and no update to the questions raised by those concerned.

This time though, in 2023, two sailors are now held by military police after they were recorded throwing punches with security guards at the new Boroko Bank South Pacific ATM near the TST supermarket.

PNGDF deputy commander Commodore Philip Polewara said that the sailors’ involvement and the extent of their actions is now being investigated by the military police.

Questions asked of who was in control of such acts were not responded to with protocol of questioning to be followed.

“We are investigating and we will deal with the incident. For now the two sailors involved are in military police custody,” said Commodore Polewara.

Alpha Response Security firm owner Oscar Wei said in an interview he would allow investigations to take place.

In uncovering what occurred, the Post-Courier found that the fight started after the vehicle, a Toyota Mk 2, driven by an off-duty sailor, which nearly mowed down a guard.

Heated argument
A confrontation occurred with the two men returning dressed in their PNGDF uniform and accompanied by another two sailors.

The four men got into a heated argument and fought with the guards before leaving.

As the guards were trying to take down statements of what happened at the Boroko police station, a bus load of sailors arrived and instantly removed the public and other vehicles.

Armed with kerosene, knives, spades and shovels, the windows of three vehicles were smashed with the vehicle parked in the middle of the road set alight by the soldiers.

As swift as their arrival, they departed just as quickly before the Fire Service arrived and stopped the fire.

Attempts to get comments from police about the incident were unsuccessful.

Republished with permission.

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