PAPUA New Guinea security task force officers ordered two rival election candidates and their supporters to stop fighting, surrender their weapons and keep the peace in Goroka on Thursday.
Eastern Highlands police commander and Joint Forces commander Superintendent Alex N’Drasal said it was the quick action of the officers that prevented what could have been a bloody clash as the counting of votes progressed in the province.
He said police disarmed one of the candidates who had fired a shot, and ordered the two groups of men from Obura-Wonenara district to lie face down while their weapons were removed.
He said lives could have been lost if they had not acted promptly. Police are investigating the incident.
The joint task force comprise members of the Defence Force, Police and Correctional Services who were providing security during the counting of ballot papers for Eastern Highlands regional seat at the National Sports Institute counting centre in Goroka.
On Wednesday night, one of the candidates made a call on Radio Eastern Highlands for all candidates contesting the Obura-Wonenara seat to gather yesterday morning at Rotary Park.
They were to discuss the conduct of a former MP during polling and counting.
When they were at the park, the former MP sent truckloads of his own supporters to confront them.The two groups were shaping up for the fight when the security officers intervened.