8 Aug 2007

PNG police gain control of Highlands Highway after gun battle

7:49 pm on 8 August 2007

Papua New Guinea police say that they have control of a section of the Highlands Highway in Western Highlands which was the site of a gun battle on Tuesday.

Police and soldiers had exchanged gunfire with angry villagers who blocked the road and torched a truck apparently over dissatisfaction with the election results.

Don Wiseman has more.

"A group of men had set up a roadblock outside the provincial capital Mt Hagen. Some reports have said they were unhappy with the surprise result which saw former Prime Minister Paias Wingti lose his regional seat. But Mr Wingti himself has described those involved in the fighting as criminals. Other reports have suggested that the group is unhappy Mr Wingti's party has signed up with the National Alliance coalition which is leading the race to form the new government. There have also been reports of five women seized off the road and raped during the unrest. A large police and military contingent is in the area and police spokesman Dominic Kakas says they have dispersed the group and regained control of the area. He says the local commander is trying to bring community leaders together to try and ensure there is no more violence."