PNG POLICE COMMISSIONER KUPO CALLS FOR HALT TO TRIBAL FIGHTING

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (January 2, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Papua New Guinea Police Commissioner Joseph Kupo says 36 tribesmen are either missing or dead since a fight between the Wagia and Unjumap tribes escalated two weeks ago.

He has called on all Southern Highlands leaders to intervene and put a halt to the tribal conflict in the township of Mendi.

The National newspaper reports Mr. Kupo as saying that all the leaders of the province should work together and facilitate peace negotiations with the two tribes who are at war, and not be mere spectators.

He said elected leaders from the province must do something to lead and direct their people.

The police presence in the area is to protect properties and lives, he stressed.

The tribal conflict is believed to have begun with the death of a student in a road accident in 1999.

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