Police in Port Moresby are still hunting attackers who hacked to death four Chinese nationals at a grocery store on Monday, the Chinese embassy in Papua New Guinea said yesterday.
Shop owner Wang Chuanhai , his wife Jiang Qin and two employees, Wang Jianguo and Cai Liangen , suffered multiple stab wounds from suspected butcher's knives. One victim was almost beheaded.
The masked attackers broke into the shop in the city's Koki area around 9pm, Yin Weijiang , the embassy's first secretary, told the South China Morning Post yesterday.
The shop was closed and some local workers were making bread on the ground floor when the attackers broke in and ordered them to face a wall. The four victims, who had been having dinner with the owner's brother on the first floor, were killed when they went downstairs after hearing the noise. The brother survived by locking himself in a room and calling police.
All the victims, who held Chinese passports, came from Shanghai and had permanent residency in the Pacific country, Yin said.
The killers took a small amount of cash from the shop's till. The brother told police he only saw one attacker, but local workers said there were more.
Calling the murders "brutal and cowardly", Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill vowed yesterday that police would "get all the help necessary to track down and bring the perpetrators to justice".
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the attack "a serious violent criminal offence" in a press conference yesterday, saying that China has urged Papua New Guinea police to capture the suspects as soon as possible.
"The foreign ministry and the Chinese embassy in Papua New Guinea will keep a close eye on the progress of the case, and provide all due assistance for the victims' relatives to deal with the aftermath," said spokeswoman Hua Chunying .
According to the embassy's website, there are now about 6,000 Chinese in Papua New Guinea. About half are from the mainland, mostly running restaurants or small shops or working for others in a variety of businesses and industries.
"Some local people dislike Asians because they have monopolised the market. They believe they have taken away business and job opportunities," Yin said, "… security in Port Moresby has always been bad." He added that knives were commonly used by local people in Port Moresby for chopping trees.
Protest marches against Chinese business owners in impoverished Port Moresby in 2009 descended into violence which saw two people killed.
Papua New Guinea recently passed harsh new laws reviving the death penalty as it grapples with a wave of violent crime, particularly against women.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse