By ROBERT PALME
IN A suicide attack, a suspected criminal blew himself and a policewoman in the heart of Papua New Guinea's third largest city, Mount Hagen, capital of Western Highlands province on Friday.
And the city is in shock following the incident in which the suspect had a hand grenade detonated at the Wamp Nga service station opposite the main bus stop and the popular Mount Hagen market.
Assistant police commissioner and commander for Highlands Simon Kauba said the incident is the first of its kind for the police force where a terrorist like attack occurred.
"We got a terrorist like attack ...it is the first time for the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary," he said.
Mr Kauba when talking to this paper yesterday morning (Saturday) said the body of the suspected criminal was still stuck to the vehicle as policemen and medical officers feared that there may be other grenades and refused to go near.
The police chief said the policewoman was trying to get off the troop carrier when the hand grenade went off blowing her about 25 meters from the vehicle, killing the suspect and seriously injuring the driver and three other policemen.
Mr Kauba said he was meeting with his senior officers in Mount Hagen and was also trying to get the bomb squad from Port Moresby to go to Mt Hagen and investigate the incident.
He said the suspect and now deceased has been identified as Pawa Moni, 35, of Kelua No. 2 village and was wanted for a series of crimes including an ATM machine robbery in Lae and the murder of a security guard at Konfarm outside Mount Hagen recently.
The assistant commissioner said police were informed of the suspect and they had him arrested from a PMV and were trying to get him into the vehicle when the grenade exploded.
Mr Kauba said the motive of the grenade attack is not yet clear as the arresting policemen are in the Mount Hagen hospital's intensive care unit, but they believe the suspect may have accidentally pulled the pin in the process of trying to escape from the arresting officers.
The commander said the city has come to a stand still as this is the first such incident for the police force and the country.
This he said is no longer a story heard in other countries but has come home and is shocking for the constabulary and the people of Mount Hagen and the country.
The policewoman is believed from the Mid Waghi area of the province and is a recent graduate from the Bomana training college.
Meanwhile, Mr Kauba has called on everyone to work with the police in endeavours to maintain peace and harmony in the society.