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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 5) – Sixteen people have been killed in separate tribal fights in the Nebilyer area of Western Highlands Province.

[PIR editor’s note: Western Highlands Province is located in the central part of Papua New Guinea’s mainland peninsula.]

Prominent leader and private lawyer Paul Mawa said yesterday that 10 men have been killed in the fight between the Melikas and the Kokas in the West Kambia area that began after a dispute over the ownership of the Aglimp coffee plantation.

Mr. Mawa said another fight between the Kurulgs and the Kulkas has resulted in the loss of six lives, but more may killed as the fights continue.

Mr. Mawa who comes from the neighbouring Ulka tribe said he had spent a week in the village spending his own money to get police and leaders to resolve the fight between the Kurulgs and Kulkas, but it seemed the fight had restarted. He said peace was reached between the two tribes recently with assistance from the Western Highlands provincial government.

However, the warring tribes have broken their own resolution started fighting again. Mr. Mawa said the danger was that the previous long time warring tribes of the Ulkas and Kulkas could erupt again if the Ulkas decide to assist the Kurulgs.

"I am not saying that should happen but am speaking on behalf of all the educated people from the area, I am appealing to all the leaders in the warring tribes to come together and make peace," he said.

Mr. Mawa said the fight between the Ulkas and the Kulkas started in 1972 and peace was finally reached in 1996. He said hundreds of lives had been lost in the fight which lasted 24 years between the two tribes and a lot of school aged children from both tribes have been deprived of getting an education in those years.

The fight between the Melikas and Kokas is right in the area where the local MP Mark Anis comes from and he should come home and resolve the tribal war, he said. Mr. Mawa said in both fights, high powered guns were being used despite efforts by churches and police to solve the fights. He said Governor Paias Wingti had made a commitment to rebuild the Nebilyer district headquarters — that was burnt down during the previous fight – has now been delayed because of the ongoing fights.

January 5, 2006

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