Andrews announced several internal transfer directives and said that police operations would be conducted in four phases: the appointment of police personnel; neutralising of threats and restoring rule of law; a public awareness and appeal; and the arrest and prosecution of offenders.
"What occurred in Mendi - including the burning of the National and District Court buildings, the Commerce and Industry building, the burning of the Air Niugini Dash 8 aircraft and the torching of Southern Highlands Governor William Powi's residence - were unthinkable acts of violence which need to be addressed immediately.
"Two warehouses in Mendi were also broken into during the riot and tonnes of relief supplies looted as well. This poses serious concerns about the welfare of people affected by the February earthquake.
"These acts of violence and criminal behaviour are clear evidence that there are underlying issues which must be addressed by everyone including the people themselves, and the various levels of leadership within the province.
"For the police we are treating these as criminal acts and will be taking appropriate and immediate action upon those who had participated in the destruction and burning of the buildings and the aeroplane as well as the looting of the relief supplies.
"I am appealing to the people of Southern Highlands and especially the leadership at the family, clan, tribal, village, electoral and provincial levels to cooperate with police and play their part in the restoration of peace and normalcy into the Southern Highlands Province - and, more importantly, in arresting those responsible for the destruction and looting," Andrews said.
"As we speak two police mobile squads totalling almost 70 police personnel are now in the Southern Highlands Province together with a contingent of Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldiers. Another two mobile squads are on standby to be sent to the Southem Highlands Province should the need arise," said Andrews, who announced the following appointments:
• Assistant commissioner Kaiglo Ambane is transferred as commander Southern.
• Assistant commissioner Anton Billie is transferred as commander Highlands Western End.
• Assistant commissioner Allan Kundi is transferred as assistant commissioner assisting the police commissioner.
• Chief superintendent Joseph Tondop's appointment as provincial police commander southern Highlands is revoked. He will remain unattached until further notice.
• Chief inspector Gideon Kauke, currently station commander, Mendi is appointed acting PPC, Southern Highlands Province.
• Chief Superintendent Paul Kamuai is appointed as acting commander, New Guinea Islands.
The changes are with immediate effect.