Death toll of PNG Highland tribal violence reaches 23

Cheryl Sanders
July 11, 2019

Traditional Papua New Guinea tribal dancers performing at the airport as they await the arrival of China President Xi Jingping in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, November 15, 2018.

Authorities said the killings occurred over the course of three days since Saturday in the villages of Karida and Peta the western province of Hela. Some reports put the death toll higher.

It is one amongst the worst outbreaks of tribal violence in PNG for years.

Hela Province's Governor Philip Undialu said the motive behind the killings was unknown but that he believed it was possible it was in retaliation for a previous incident, ABC news reported.

"To all who have guns and kill and hide behind the mask of community, learn from what I will do to criminals who killed innocent people, I am not afraid to use strongest measures in law on you", he said.

Native data company EMTV reported on the very least two incidents in small villages in the Tari-Pori district.

"Twenty-four people are confirmed dead, killed in three days, but could be more today", Hela provincial administrator William Bando said on Wednesday.

Local health worker Pills Kolo said it was hard to recognise some of the body parts and posted images of remains bundled together using mosquito nets as makeshift body bags.

In the wake of the attacks, 20 police officers and 10 soldiers were sent to Hela to "stop any further violence and capture the killers".

On Facebook, the Prime Minister said the killings, which took place in his electorate, were led by gunmen from the Haguai, Okiru and Liwi tribes.

Marape added that the province of up to 400,000 people could not have proper law and order with only 60 policemen and the occasional military patrol in the area.

Prime Minister James Marape vowed to bring "the gun-toting criminals" to justice.

It is not clear what prompted the latest attacks, but many tribal clashes are old rivalries ignited by allegations of rape, theft, or disputes over territorial boundaries.

But while clans have fought each other for decades or centuries, the severity of the violence has shocked Papua New Guinea.

United States oil and gasoline firm ExxonMobil operates a pure gasoline processing plant in the effect where the bloodbath took situation however halted constructing on a pipeline final 365 days on memoir of unrest.

Papua New Guinea is among the poorest countries of Asia with about 40 per cent of the population living on less than $1 a day, according to the UN.

Other reports by iNewsToday