Mass Looting Breaks Out Following Civil Servant Protest, Papua New Guinea

Hundreds of civil servants protested outside Papua New Guinea’s parliament located in the nation’s capital of Port Moresby on Wednesday following the government deducting up to 300 Kina ($120) from the paychecks of civil servants.

Protestors, largely consisting of police, prison guards, and soldiers, protested outside parliament before the looting began, demanding to speak to government officials regarding the pay cuts.

Police Association president Lowa Tambua demanded an answer as to why the deductions had been put in place before stating that police will not work until the Prime Minister addresses the pay cuts.

Protesters at parliament claimed they believed that the deductions were due to new taxes having been implemented, a claim the nation’s tax service has denied.

“There is no tax increase,” IRC Commissioner-General Sam Koim said in a statement. “There was a technical glitch on the Alesco payroll configurations, hence the deductions. The Department of Finance, the Department of the Prime Minister, and the IRC will issue a statement shortly and correct the situation.”

Reports of looted shops, shootings, and fires have erupted following the police’s refusal to work, with the St. John’s Ambulance Service having reported multiple emergency calls relating to shootings and monitoring a number of fire incidents in the city, ABC News reports.

Firefighter Chief Bill Roo stated that firefighters have suffered severe struggles as looters have begun attacking fire trucks in the chaos, preventing the overwhelmed firefighting force from effectively fighting fires, Post Courier Live, a Papua New Guinean news outlet reported.

Prime Minister James Marape apologized for the deductions in a press conference, claiming that the deductions were made in error following a payroll glitch before promising the deduction would be made up in the next payroll cycle. Marape further emphasized that the reasons for the deductions are currently under investigation and that advice for those affected will be provided later in the day.