At about 12.30pm on Friday, an armed robbery was carried out in a busy shopping area by a gang who had stolen a 15-seater bus earlier.
Lae police report that the bus was stolen with passengers onboard next to the Sir Ignatius Kilage stadium.
“Criminals posing as genuine passengers held up the bus crew and passengers and directed them to Two-Mile, where the rest of the gang was,” reported police.
“From there, the passengers and crew were taken hostage after they had their personal belongings stripped off. They were led away by more than 10 criminals while the rest of the gang took the bus and proceeded up to top town.
“From there some of the gang members went into the shop as customers and held up staff and customers, where personal belongings of customers were stolen as well as phones and laptops. No cash was stolen as they were in a hurry.”
Police were alerted shortly after the robbery, where a description of the stolen bus was given.
The bus was intercepted at Papuan Compound Sitos Street by Special Response Unit 101.
Upon seeing the patrol unit, police say the gang panicked and bumped into a vehicle parked alongside the road and when turning right, were blocked by heavy machinery working on the road.
They tried to shoot at SRU 101 where Police shot the gunman in the bus, killing him instantly, while wounding another. Seven more were apprehended while three escaped on foot into the crowded area.
On the other side of the City at Two-Mile, SRU 102 and Miles Police were able to rescue the hostages when they were set free by the other gang members, after they realised that Police were in the area.
SRU 102 and Miles Police tracked the suspects on foot into the swamp area at the back of Miles, where the gang members shot at Police.
Whilst returning fire, one of the suspects was shot dead while it is believed that others had received bullet wounds.
“We are appealing to members of the public to report to Police any persons carrying bullet wounds and seeking medical attention,” stated the Lae metropolitan superintendent, Anthony Wagambie Jnr.
“I am also appealing for their relatives to seek Police assistance for the wounded to be treated at the hospital.
“I commend my members for their quick response and for the SRU in remaining in their patrol zones.
“I am warning criminal elements not to test our capability and stay away from violent crimes.
“It is unfortunate that lives have to be lost, but Police have a duty to do and if anyone uses any form of violence to commit a crime, they will be met with the same force by Police.
“I am appealing to youths to refrain from criminal activities. From information we have received and through intelligence prior to this, criminals were planning a major robbery. We were not too sure where it would be and when but from the information was that they intended to challenge Police in a game of cops and robbers.
“I appeal to youths, your life is irreplaceable, don’t play with it.”