Four dead in PNG after police fire on march

  • 08/06/2016
(@Mangiwantok/Twitter)
(@Mangiwantok/Twitter)

At least four people are reportedly dead after police open fired on a university student march at Papua New Guinea's parliament house.

Photos of the incident have emerged on social media today. A number of students have been hospitalised after the shooting, The Guardian Australia reports.

The PNG parliament heard four students are dead, an ABC report says.

The incident happened after students left the university heading toward parliament house in Port Moresby, but were blocked by police.

Local media PNG Loop says one student was shot in the back. Student reports on social media say tear gas was fired into the crowd.

An estimated 1000 students dispersed on the university grounds after the shooting, the ABC reports.

Australia has called for calm as the government scrambles to verify the reports.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said if true, it's "a tragedy".

"We call on all sides for calm to de-escalate the tensions and certainly call on all sides to respect the peaceful and lawful right to protest," she told reporters in Brisbane today.

Ms Bishop plans to call her PNG government counterpart when she gets more details from Australia's representatives on the ground in Port Moresby.

"There are about 70 Australian Federal Police officers in PNG spread throughout the country and our high commission will be working with the Australian AFP who are there to monitor the situation and keep me and keep the Australian government informed," she said.

Protests have escalated in PNG recently as Prime Minister Peter O'Neill faces corruption allegations.

Student Gerald Peni said officers fired directly into the crowd after they were prevented from arresting the student council president.

"Many of the students they fell, they got injured, we don't know how many casualties we may have at the moment," he told the ABC.

Oro province governor Gary Juffa, a critic of the O'Neill government, said on Twitter he had spoken with students at the protest.

"Informed that several were shot," Juffa said.

The incident started with an argument between a metropolitan police superintendent and a student, he added.

A major aid agency cited a university clinic as saying four students were dead and at least 15 were wounded.

Port Moresby General Hospital said it had admitted 10 students.

Thousands of students at the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby have been protesting and boycotting classes for weeks amid growing political unrest in the Pacific island nation.

Clashes have erupted between Papua New Guinea police and members of the public outside Port Moresby General Hospital, a hospital official said, adding gunfire has been heard.

"Now there is a very big clash with the public and with the police just outside the Port Moresby General Hospital," the official told Reuters by telephone today.

"There is also shooting going on, open gunfire."

The PNG police has not confirmed the incident.

Newshub. / AAP