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Police say campus vandalism a law and order issue

PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Police in Papua New Guinea say four students have been arrested and charged at the University of PNG.

Students had blocked access to the country’s biggest university on Friday morning before police moved in.

A building on the grounds was set alight, but students are denying responsibility.

Police Minister Robert Atiyafa said four people were arrested and warned that anyone preventing students from returning to class would be “caught and arrested”.

“The activities of these remaining few are no longer student issues but law and order issues,” Atiyafa said in a statement.

“Most students are ready to go back to class, but there are people, mainly non-students acting under the influence of alcohol, who are breaking the law and obstructing these students.

“This is now a law and order situation and the law will be enforced.”

Police again moved onto the university after students burned a building and shut down the main campus.

The PNG Government said earlier violence on Thursday, in which five cars were set alight, was not related to the ongoing boycott of university lectures.

Students have been boycotting classes in protest against PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s handling of corruption allegations.

A number of students have demanded that the university and police to apologise for the shooting of students during a protest march against the Government on June 8.

Some said they had demanded the university administration resign and wanted a new vice-chancellor to begin peace talks.

Radio New Zealand reports that reconciliation was expected to begin yesterday between students and leading education officials.

The secretary of higher education in PNG, Dr David Kavanamur, and the UPNG chancellor Dr Nicholas Mann are expected to start the reconciliation process.