Mob Burns Airplane During Riots in Papua New Guinea
Unrest in Papua New Guinea has resulted in an unusual incident, the burning of an airplane by protesters enraged over an election result. Rioters set an Air Niugini aircraft — a Canadian-made Bombardier Dash 8 regional turboprop — on fire, destroying it and leading to the indefinite closing of the Mendi Airport (MDU) where the incident, reported by aviation site Flight Service Bureau, occurred.
Air Niugini is the flag carrier of the island nation to the east of Indonesia. It flies mostly domestically, but ranges as far as Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong. Papua New Guinea is rich in gorgeous natural beauty and cultural attractions, but has been so far off the global tourism map.
In response the election of the new governor of the Southern Highlands province, William Powi, supporters of the opposing candidate reportedly shot the tires of the plane and later torched it. Air Niugini said that the passengers had deplaned before the violent protest, and that no one was hurt.
After the tires were shot, the local police guarded the plane to protect it from further damage. That's when protestors approached from all angles. Commander Gideon Kauke told Radio New Zealand that some protestors were armed with guns and that police couldn't stop the mob from burning the aircraft.
According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs, people should "exercise a high degree of caution in Papua New Guinea" and should "reconsider [the] need to travel" to certain places in the country.