PNG police stretched to control lawlessness in Alotau

12:59 pm on 25 January 2019

Papua New Guinea's police chief is urging members of the public to assist in the capture of a prison escapee linked to increased lawlessness in Alotau.

PNG Police Commissioner, Gary Baki.

PNG Police Commissioner, Gary Baki. Photo: EMTV

The Milne Bay capital is again in lockdown after the latest showdown between police and a criminal gang whose ringleader Tommy Baker is growing in notoriety.

He has been blamed by police for numerous armed holdups and robberies of local businesses, as well as a string of piracy incidents at sea.

Around 20 armed criminals invaded the town and shot dead the province's legal officer on Wednesday, before setting fire to several police houses.

In an ensuing shootout with police, at least one person linked to Baker's gang was shot dead, and others injured.

The police commissioner Gari Baki said a mobile squad team is being deployed to Alotau to assist the local police respond to the situation.

He appealed to the public to assist police in apprehending Baker in particular.

Baker was detained at Bomana prison in Port Moresby but escaped last year on October 3rd while receiving medical treatment at the Port Moresby General Hospital.

"All we have to do is step up on our investigation have him re-arrested. A lot of police work went into his initial capture but he simply walked out of prison so we have to now spend a lot of money to get him back in again," Commissioner Baki said.

Commissioner Baki pointed out that sea piracy was on the rise in Alotau due to the fact police does not have the ability to deal with it in Alotau. The only police boat in Alotau broke down six years ago.

Tommy Baker

Tommy Baker Photo: Facebook / The Notorious PNG

In a statement the commissioner said he would look at allocating resources used during APEC to support police operations in each of the maritime provinces to help fight crime.

Meanwhile, the Milbne Bay Provincial Police Commander George Bayagau told the Post Courier that local police had run out of ammunition.

He said officers had to withdraw at one point which gave the opportunity for the Baker the gang to burn eight homes belonging to policemen, as well as the Provincial Police Commision's vehicle.

Mr Bayagau said indications are that the gang was trying to make its way out of Alotau into Central province.

He said Central province police have been made aware of the situation.

Furthermore, while confirming that police burnt the home of a known criminal associate of Baker, Mr Bayagau said officers were not drunk at the time.

People at Alotau town street, hills view, Papua New Guinea, 2011.

People at Alotau town street in Papua New Guinea. Photo: Danemo

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs