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By Andrew Alphonse

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, July 1) – Tribesmen in the Hawa mountains in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands hacked a man to death on Wednesday and were holding his 12-year-old son hostage.

Ikipe Lupe, 62, and his son were on their way home from their food garden when they were ambushed by the tribesmen.

Police believe the incident is a spillover of an ongoing conflict between the Ayako and Halongo tribesmen who live on the outskirts of the Hawa prison camp, a few kilometres northwest of Tari town.

Acting provincial police commander Insp Eddie Gaima said the Mobile Squad 09 went after the tribesmen to rescue the boy but found their way blocked by barricades and had to return to Tari.

Meanwhile, some members of the Mendi-based Mobile Squad 10 have been dispatched to Tari to join the rescue operation.

Insp Gaima said the tribesmen sent a letter to the authorities in Tari yesterday morning, to say that the boy, George Alina, was alive and safe. The tribesmen also wanted to talk to Tari authorities and listed some demands before they would release George.

Insp Gaima said their priority was to get the boy released unharmed.

"We will then try to bring the leaders of both sides together to identify the murderers and have them brought to justice," he told The National.

The Halongo and Ayako tribesmen have been at war since November last year. At least 16 people have died so far.

In another incident, an elderly man was shot dead at Homa village, near the Tari airport.

Insp said Hamaka Haulai, 57, was working on his coffee plot when he was shot at by two men believed to be from the Tani clan.

He said Haulai was in a serious condition but there was no medical assistance available as the Tari hospital closed a long time ago.

July 1, 2005

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