7 Nov 2011

Ease of tensions in PNG's riot-crippled Lae

1:52 pm on 7 November 2011

Tensions appear to have eased in the Papua New Guinea city of Lae following several days of rioting that's caused a number of deaths and serious injuries.

Our correspondent in the country's industrial centre says the violence began after a group of youths wanting to present a petition on crime to the provincial governor Luther Wenge found out he was away.

Oseah Philemon says although Mr Wenge returned the next day and received the petition the fighting continued.

He says Lae's two-hundred-and-70 police used tear gas and guns to disperse the thousands of rioters, who brought the city to a standstill.

"Basically it was total chaos throughout the weekend. A lot of people used things like iron rods and bush knives to attack each other."

Oseah Philemon says police numbers have been bolstered by one-hundred officers from Port Moresby and the Highlands.

The Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has warned that he'll declare a state of emergency if things don't settle down.