Three arrested over PNG university killing

6:43 pm on 28 June 2016
The remains of a building after it was set alight during violent clashes at the University of Technology in Lae, Papua New Guinea.

The remains of a building after it was set alight during violent clashes at the University of Technology in Lae, Papua New Guinea. Photo: Supplied / Albert Schram

Police in the Papua New Guinea city of Lae have arrested three men in connection with the death of a university student at the weekend.

A first-year student was killed at Lae's University of Technology, or Unitech, and buildings were burned in what the university said appeared to be a targeted attack.

Witnesses say a mob armed with bush knives entered the campus and killed Graham Romanong, a first year student, as he slept in his dormitory.

The Lae Metropolitan Commander Anthony Wagambie has confirmed the three men have been arrested and would be questioned by police over the incident.

Wagambie cautions against tribalism and regionalism

Mr Wagambie said that after the three suspects were identified and detained, he spoke to the main body of students from Enga province on why they were all brought to Lae Central Station.

"Reason being to positively identify the suspects so that it could clear the other students, as it has come to a stage that there are a lot of generalisation on all Enga students," he said.

Police units had been dispatched to escort the rest of the Enga students along the Highway, to assist in their safe passage back to their province.

Concerned about rising tensions between student groups from different provinces, the Lae commander has urged calm.

"I appeal to relatives of the deceased to allow police to do their work, " he said.

"I would like to emphasise that we must not generalise all of Enga Students for what has happened."

In a statement, Mr Wagambie said that police would ensure that as well as bringing those involved in the killing and the arson at Unitech to justice, those responsible for a previous incident, when an Engan student was attacked with a knife during a confrontation, would be brought to justice.

Taking stock

Earlier, the vice chancellor, Albert Schram said it wasn't clear what motivated the attack, but it could have been revenge for the student wounded in a confrontation earlier in the month.

Saturday's unrest came after a series of clashes at PNG's three main universities this month, including a police shooting that injured dozens of students at the University of PNG in Port Moresby three weeks ago.

Students across the country have been involved in a months-long boycott of classes in protest at the Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill's refusal to stand down from office to face fraud allegations.

But Mr O'Neill has blamed the parliamentary opposition for inciting the unrest, and said the opposition leader, Don Polye, had "blood on his hands."

Mr O'Neill accused Mr Polye and the opposition of attempting to use student issues for political gain.

He said the opposition has been stirring up students and misleading them with false ideas, and that when investigations were completed, he wouldn't be surprised to find the opposition heavily involved.

Mr O'Neill said the opposition was undermining the economy and image of the nation.

The Papua New Guinea cabinet was to meet today to consider the National Security Council's report on university campus violence.