By Andres Alphonse

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 25) - Two men are confirmed dead and several others are fighting for their lives after fresh fighting flared up in the notorious and remote Fugwa village of Koroba in Southern Highlands last week.

Tari police chief Inspector Julias Taison reported that several houses had been burnt down while food gardens and other properties were destroyed.

Inspector Taison led a team of local policemen from Tari Police Station and Mobile Squad Unit 7 currently based in Tari, into the area last Tuesday in an attempt to defuse the fight. However, he reported that the situation was very volatile and the police could not do much but return to Tari.

He said they would try again to go into the area this week. The two dead men are believed to have been gunned down.

Reports reaching Tari said that the fight was a spillover of an on-going politically related dispute between two factions in the village.

The villagers in Fugwa are heavily armed and they had held a Koroba-Kopiago election candidate and lawyer Benias Peri with three policemen as hostages after a heavy gun battle with the locals during the 2002 election campaign. 

Former SHP governor Anderson Agiru mediated with the captors and the hostages were released after a week. 

During the drama, Semai Gaia, a policeman of the disbanded Tari-based mobile squad 10 and a civilian, Tege Malopa, were also killed.

The fight week stemmed from unresolved issues surrounding the death of Mr Malopa, whose relatives have blamed a 'warlord' (named) from the area for the death of their son. 

Police said the fight that flared up last week was between the warlord's relatives and Malopa's clan. One of the casualties is said to be the brother of the warlord.

Acting deputy provincial administrator for western end, Philip Moya and MS7 Commander Inspector Albert Beli, would travel into the area with some policemen this week to try and bring the warring parties together to broker for peace.

November 26, 2003

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