At least four students were killed and several others injured after police opened fire on a protest in Papua New Guinea. The students had planned to march from the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) to Parliament to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, who has been accused of corruption.

Around 2,000 students attempted to travel from the Waigani campus to Parliament but were prevented from leaving the university by a team of armed policemen. Student Gerald Tulu Manu-Peni told RNZI that the authorities opened fire on a group after they tried to prevent the police from arresting the student president.

Police shooting Papua New Guinea
Fellow protesters carry away a student who was shot when police opened fire Twitter: @Mangiwantok

News of the attack spread on social media on 8 June with photos showing scenes of chaos at the campus. Some eyewitness accounts describe policemen punching and kicking students.

Manu-Peni said that the police fired directly at the crowd. "Many of the students they fell, they got injured, we don't know how many casualties we may have at the moment," he said.

Once the firing started, students fled across the campus but in many cases, the authorities pursued them and reportedly even fired tear gas into the dormitories where many had escaped to.

Clashes between the police and civilians continued outside the hospital where the injured students were taken.

Reuters reported a hospital admissions official describing the scene outside the Port Moresby General Hospital. "Now there is a very big clash with the public and with the police just outside the Port Moresby General Hospital.

"There is also shooting going on, open gunfire."

Social campaigner Noel Anjo, who witnessed the event, predicted a severe backlash in the wake of the attack. "There's civil unrest likely to take place. All the market places, all the shops... they're all closed, closing. And places are sending workers home and students are planning the next course of action and are gathering at the forum square now."

Already protest marches against the police and the government have started around the country and many businesses have shut down for the day in solidarity with those who were attacked.