PORT MORESBY: Papua New Guinea’s prime minister declared a 14-day state of emergency in the capital on Thursday, after 15 people were killed in riots as crowds looted and burned shops.

Violence erupted in Port Moresby on Wednesday evening after a group of soldiers, police officers and prison guards launched protests over unexplained deductions to their pay.

Within hours the unrest had also spread to the city of Lae, about 300 kilometres (186 miles) to the north of the capital. “Today we call for a state of emergency for 14 days in our nation’s capital,” Prime Minister James Marape announced.

More than 1,000 troops were on standby “to contain any situations that may arise going forward”, he said.

At least 15 people were killed in the unrest in Port Moresby and Lae, said Police Commissioner David Manning.

Port Moresby’s largest hospital treated 25 people with gunshot wounds, according to figures provided to AFP, as well as six people with “bush knife” lacerations.

AFPTV footage showed looters in the capital dashing into stores through smashed glass windows, stuffing stolen goods into cardboard boxes, shopping trolleys and plastic buckets. One man was seen lugging an entire chest freezer away on his shoulders.

Buildings and cars were set alight, AFPTV footage showed, stirring up thick plumes of black smoke that hung over the worst-hit parts of the city.


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