PNG Police And Refugees Dispute Peter Dutton's Version Of Events After Manus Island Shooting
Dutton claimed detainees were leading a boy into the detention centre. Detainees say he's wrong.
UPDATE: Papua New Guinea's police have rejected claims made by immigration minister Peter Dutton that the nation's defence force fired off rounds of bullets at an Australian-run detention centre on Manus Island after asylum seekers led a local boy into the processing centre.
Dutton said the incident kicked off over concerns for the safety of a small child brought into the centre.
But Manus province police commander David Yapu said Dutton was referring to an unrelated incident earlier in the week when a 10-year-old boy came into the centre.
"He was given some fruits by the residents in the centre and then he was taken out again," he said.
"So there was nothing done to him and also there was no official complaint by the parents of that small boy."
Dutton gave his version of events on Thursday afternoon.
"There was concern about why the boy was being led, or for what purpose he was being led... into the regional processing centre," Dutton told Sky News.
A group of locals stormed the centre during the Good Friday fracas, allegedly throwing rocks, and PNG Defence Force personnel later fired shots.
Dutton said there was a lot of "angst" in the local community about the boy's disappearance into the centre.
"I think it's fair to say the mood had elevated quite quickly; I think some of the local residents were quite angry about this particular incident and another alleged sexual assault," he said.
Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said a fight did break out on Friday night between Manus Island locals, the PNG Navy and detainees on a soccer field adjacent to the naval base, but that it had nothing to do with a local boy.
"There is no truth to that whatsoever," Rintoul told BuzzFeed News. "Can you imagine a local boy surrounded by locals being led up to the detention centre?"
Rintoul said Dutton's version of events was "spurious" and "completely unsubstantiated".
"There is no substance to Dutton's claim and he is trying to cast aspersions on asylum seekers and refugees and it is disgraceful.
"I don't know what took place on the soccer field but any implication of a young boy being led anywhere is complete nonsense."
Iranian asylum seeker Amir Taghinia, who is detained on Manus Island, said Dutton was "wrong" and trying to "mislead the public".
"It is impossible for a non-staffer or local to make it into the centre unless they forcibly try to attack or storm the centre, which they did on Good Friday," the 24-year-old told BuzzFeed News.
The security guards knew "every single face" and would realise if a young boy had come into the centre.
"There are Australian guards who monitor every single activity upon entry, which makes the claim that Mr Dutton made impossible."
PNG Defence Force chief of staff colonel Ray Numa told the ABC that a legal team from Port Moresby had been sent to the island and given two weeks to investigate and identify the soldiers involved.
"Misuse of weapons is a serious breach of military conduct, especially where rules of engagement were not used," Numa said. "We want to clear this as quickly as possible and have those involved held accountable for their actions. Those found to be in breach of civil laws would be dealt with by the police."
Provincial police commander David Yapu claimed the soldiers retaliated after one of their colleagues was assaulted when refugees clashed with navy personnel at the field.
Yapu condemned the "unethical and unacceptable behaviour of the drunken soldiers" and said there had been damage to property and vehicles at the centre.