Investigation into Lombrum shootout starts

Investigations into the Good Friday shooting at the Lombrum Naval base have started.

The incident involved soldiers and asylum seekers from the Manus Regional Processing Centre.

Police and the commanding officer of the Naval Base HMPNGS Tarangau have commenced preliminary investigations, with the assistance of the management of the processing centre.

On Friday, 14 April, around 6:30pm, a group of soldiers retaliated at the Centre following the assault of a fellow officer, allegedly by the asylum seekers.

Stones were allegedly thrown into the compound. Shots were also fired however, no one was hurt by them.

The usage of the naval base oval by asylum seekers past 6pm is alleged to have triggered the incident.

Defense force Chief of Staff, Colonel Raymond Numa, in a statement said asylum seekers are supposed to vacate the oval at 6pm however, on that day, they refused to leave when they were asked to do so.

"When a duty officer pursued the matter, he was allegedly assaulted by the asylum seekers, which led to an escalation of the confrontation,” he added.

Acting Manus provincial police commander, senior inspector David Yapu, said the situation on ground is quiet but remains tense.

He commended Begsy Karaki, the Commanding officer at the Lombrum Naval base, for the prompt intervention, which defused the situation.

"Otherwise, situation could have escalated and people could be injured or killed, due to firearms being involved.”

PPC Yapu said soldiers also removed keys from a hire car his officers were using at the centre and drove away, causing damages to it.

"A senior PNG immigration officer was attacked and injured by the soldiers, including an ​asylum seeker, and were treated at the centre and discharged," PPC Yapu added.

He also raised concern on such unethical and unacceptable behaviour of the soldiers, who he claimed were drunk at the time of the rampage.

He said on Thursday, Col Numa addressed the Commanders parade, and made some good comments to the solders about maintaining a high level of discipline, professionalism and leadership.

Yapu said he was invited to the parade and heard the remarks from Col Numa.

"However, this message had fallen on deaf ears and the soldiers showed disrespect to the international and local community at the centre," he added.

Kurdish Iranian journalist and refugee, Behrouz Boochani, posted on his Facebook page saying two refugees, one from Sudan and another from Pakistan, had been injured in the incident.

(Picture: Human Rights Watch)

Sally Pokiton