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PNG hostage standoff the result of a hoax

Tuesday 2 August 2016 | Published in Regional

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Police in Papua New Guinea say a tense hostage situation that shut down a popular tourist town and left two women injured was actually a hoax.

Police surrounded a building in the coastal town of Alotau, one of PNG’s main tourist areas, after reports of an armed robbery at an airline office.

Witnesses said officers fired tear gas into the building, where a number of hostages were reportedly trapped, and there was a long standoff.

But police have since confirmed there were no gunmen inside the office.

Regional Commander Allen Kundi said when police finally gained entry to the airline office all the found were scared airline staff inside.

“There were four females in there, locked inside the office,” he said.

“They had received some reports that there were some criminals coming to hold them up, so they locked themselves inside the office.”

Assistant Commissioner Kundi said police also searched another building, where gunmen had also been reported.

“They found there was no presence of any armed criminals in the building so it was all a hoax,” he said.

Staff at the Alotau Hospital said they treated one woman for shock and another for tear gas injuries.

Police said they reacted forcefully because an officer was shot by armed robbers in Alotau just two days prior. Constable Samuel Pias was killed when officers came across a robbery at a shop on July 30. - ABC