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By Philip Dowa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 2) - More than 20 houses went up in flames in Finschhafen, Morobe province during Christmas. 

Villagers retaliated after an armed hold-up on the Heldsbach-Pindiu Highway, leaving one man dead and another critically wounded. 

According to an eyewitness, Jimmy Songo, the incident happened at Yunzaing village. He said because of the poor condition of the road, a PMV dropped off Pindiu bound passengers at the road junction at Yunzaing.

As the passengers carrying their cargo were going home, a group of youths from a nearby village held them up and robbed them. In the process one of them fired a homemade shotgun seriously injuring two people.

The two men were rushed to the Butaweng Hospital where one was pronounced dead and the other is fighting for his life.

Just before the New Year, villagers from Hube and Burum-Kuat local level government council areas of Finschhafen raided Yunzaing village and set more than 20 houses on fire.

The inland Finschhafen people demanded compensation from the Yunzaing villagers and called upon local member, Guao Zurenuoc, to explain why the road was not fixed.

"We read an advertisement by the member concerning the upgrading of the road but have yet to physically witness the development," Mr Songo said.

"This death would not have happened if the people were dropped off closer to their villages at Pindiu station."

Mr Songo said the situation is still tense and is likely to get worse if the culprits are still not found. 

The people of Yunzaing held a crisis meeting and identified those involved, but police have yet to make arrests.

Finschhafen police confirmed the incident and said they are still collecting information before they can make arrests

January 2, 2004

The National:


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