PNG's Madang rocked by rioting, looting

6:09 am on 1 July 2015

Police in the Papua New Guinea province of Madang say rioting in the provincial capital has been brought under control but there are unconfirmed reports of at least one death.

The rioting, which descended into looting of shops in central Madang, was sparked after a march organised for today - reportedly to protest against land grabs and capitalism - was disallowed by police.

Madang's police commander Sylvester Kalaut says he had already denied the march organisers approval but people gathered anyway this morning in Madang.

He says that those gathered for the march were joined by opportunists as trouble started, with as many as five hundred people turning to rioting.

Numerous Asian-owned shops were targetted by hordes who went on a looting spree, as businesses and schools in Madang quickly closed.

PNG police on patrol

PNG police on patrol Photo: AFP

Sylvester Kalaut says police eventually brought about calm, and he understands there are casualties.

"But we're yet to confirm. There's a report that one has died at the hospital. We can't say at this time that it was the police that shot him. There were also shots being fired from other citizens. we believe that some of them may have used .22 rifles to fire shots."

Sylvester Kalaut says one Chinese store owner was seriously injured.

He denies that the protest was about opposition to the planned Pacific Marine Industrial Zone in Madang which is unpopular with local communities.