MADANG (PNG Post-Courier/Pacific Media Watch): A peaceful protest in Madang turned nasty yesterday, leaving one boy dead, scores wounded and business houses destroyed by looters and "opportunists", police said.
Sources say strong opposition to a mega tuna processing complex, which they say threatens the environment, prompted the march, but police blamed the separate rioting on opportunism.
Madang provincial police commander Sylvester Kalaut said police had not given approval for the march.
He said he had asked for an independent police investigation into the shooting of the schoolboy, allegedly by police.
Kalaut also called for reinforcements from ourtside the province to help "contain" the situation.
He said the investigation would determine whether the victim had died from shots fired by the police, the public of the owner of a business house ransacked.
He said a number of people had suffered bullet and knife wounds as well from shattered glass windows and louvres.
According to police, the looting started before the start of a peaceful mass rally by town residents between 9.30am and 11am.
Kalaut said two pastors had organised the march to start from the Madang provincial government offuices to the town's Bates Oval spotsground.
Many Asian-owned shops were targetted by looters, as businesses and schools in Madang quickly closed.
Reports said the march was a protest against rampant capitalism without public consultation in the beautiful coastal town.
But Kalaut denied that the protest was about opposition to a controversial planned Pacific Marine Industrial Zone which has drawn strong criticism from local community groups.
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