PNG Gunmen Hold Manus Asylum Seekers Hostage, Assault One, During Port Moresby Robbery

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Refugees from Manus Island have been held hostage during an armed hold-up in Port Moresby over the weekend, with reports at least one detainee was assaulted and hotel security were fired on by up to five gunmen.

The details of the attack come from Behrouz Boochani, a prominent Kurdish Iranian journalist currently detained on Manus Island.

Mr Boochani contacted New Matilda this evening to relay the story.

Kurdish Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani.
Kurdish Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani.

“… the 17 refugees… are patients waiting for medical treatment in Port Moresby,” Mr Boochani said.

“They have been placed by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in a small hotel.”

One of the detainees held hostage has confirmed the incident to New Matilda during a phone call late this evening.

The detainee, who asked not to be named, confirmed that he hid under a table during the attack, and that around half the group of 17 was held hostage.

He told New Matilda the gunmen stole money from the reception area of the hotel, and the attack took about 15 to 20 minutes.

New Matilda has also independently verified that the premises is the Granville Motel, situated near the Port Moresby Hospital, a few minutes from the international airport.

A staff member of the hotel this evening confirmed some key details of the attack.

Mr Boochani reports: “[On Sunday night] at approximately 11pm… armed robbers attacked the hotel and held Wilson officers and… refugees hostage.”

Mr Boochani said that at the time the refugees were taken, they had been walking in the hotel yard. The gunmen also threatened Wilson Security staff, who are contracted by the Australian Government to guard detainees.

“[They held] the guards at gunpoint and took the Wilson officers’ money,” Mr Boochani said.

“The refugees said that the robbers had a getaway vehicle ready and during the incident that the armed men shot at hotel security guards before escaping. During the armed robbery, one of the refugees was punched. The assault victim has been unable to sleep since his attack due to the fear that the armed men will return.”

Mr Boochani says that the group of 17 refugees have been waiting at the Granville Hotel for around two months, and during this time some claim they have not received any medical treatment.

“The refugees have filled out request forms and verbally asked Immigration to return them to Manus prison, but Immigration have refused to transfer the men back,” he said.

New Matilda is continuing to pursue further details of the story overnight.

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Thom Mitchell & Chris Graham

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