A violent exchange that saw drunken Papua New Guinean naval personnel fire up to 100 rounds of ammunition at *asylum-seekers and staff on Manus Island began after detainees trespassed on to navy land and threw rocks at staff who asked them to leave, a witness says.
The witness, an Australian staff member on the island who declined to be named, said it was “only a matter of time” before an incident such as Friday’s occurred, amid rising tensions between PNG locals, defence personnel and asylum-seeker inmates at Australia’s processing centre.
Last month, a 28-year-old Pakistani refugee was charged over the alleged sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl in Lorengau, and in January another asylum-seeker was arrested and charged over the alleged assault of a 19-year-old student.
The witness said tensions were inflamed last week when three refugees from the Pakistani and Afghani communities allegedly led the five-year-old son of a navy member into the centre “for purposes unknown”.
The child was reportedly found and returned unharmed to outraged parents.
PNG police yesterday confirmed in a statement that “a group of drunken soldiers” had “rampaged” through the detention centre, “firing several shots into the air and indiscriminately assaulting policemen, PNG immigration officers, other service providers and asylum-seekers”.
Obviously reason to open fire .... in someone's opinion.