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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 23) – One man is dead and 16 others seriously injured in a clash between two tribes from two Highlands provinces in Mt Hagen.

The 16 injured were treated at the Mt Hagen General Hospital on Sunday. Others reportedly fled the city after the fight with injuries and their fate are not known. At least three houses were damaged in the fight that broke out over a stolen sandshoe.

The fight took place at the PTB compound between the Lutheran and Catholic churches in the city.

Yesterday, Chimbus, Engans, and Southern Highlanders joined forces with Eastern Highlanders in demanding compensation from Western Highlanders for what they claimed "were continuous attacks on innocent highlanders residing in Mt Hagen’’.

The Eastern Highlanders involved in the fight are from the Kimi area of the Eastern Highlands Province.

The Mt Hagen Hospital director for medical services would not deny or confirm the hospital treating victims of the fight or the reported death but hospital staff who treated the people confirmed the number of injured.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Gari Baki confirmed the incident yesterday.

"The situation is quite tense — very, very tense," Mr Baki said in Port Moresby.

Provincial metropolitan superintendent Theodore Muriki said leaders of the two warring tribes were meeting to try to avert a further flare up in fighting.

The clash followed an argument over a pair of shoes seen on the feet of a Moge tribe youth which a Kimi tribe family said was stolen from one of their children. The ensuing exchange resulted in a tribal fight between the WHP Moge tribe and the EHP Kimi people.

More than 300 Eastern Highlanders, residents of Mt Hagen, yesterday assembled at the city’s Pope John Paul oval and demanded provincial leaders and authorities address what they claimed were frequent attacks on residents from other Highlands provinces in the city.

Spokesman Benson Hima said his 16-year-old son was wearing a new pair of shoes and was on his way home after 5pm on Saturday when he was attacked by a group of men, allegedly from the Moge Andakelka tribe of Mt Hagen "because they wanted the shoes’’.

"He gave them the shoes and later a family member went to talk to the leaders of the tribe but he was attacked and chopped on his hips," Mr Hima said.

Mr Hima said the tribesmen from the faction of the Moge tribe attacked Eastern Highlands settlers living at the Sullivans compound in the city centre on Sunday morning.

The attackers, Mr Hima said, chopped anyone who came out of the house which they had surrounded. Among the attacked were women and children.

The Eastern Highlands community in Mt Hagen described the attack as barbaric and called on Moge leaders to pay them compensation and to hand over the attackers to police to deal with.

"The people from Eastern Highlands are demanding the culprits face the full force of the law and to make compensation for victimizing and killing of innocent people, especially from other provinces,’’ Mr Hima said.

A meeting will be held today between the Kimi people, other Highlands province residents of Mt Hagen, police officers and provincial leaders to avert further bloodshed.

Late yesterday, a Moge man was speared and the village deserted.

November 23, 2004

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