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By Agnes Peter

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 2) – Six people have been reported killed in violent clashes between members of the ‘royal army’ of the self-proclaimed king and owner of U-Vistract money scheme Noah Musingku and local villagers in the Tonu area of the autonomous region of Bougainville.

Acting provincial police commander Assistant Commissioner Paul Kamuai, however, confirmed only two deaths yesterday.

He said police personnel were sent to the area last Tuesday to stop the fighting.

Mr Kamuai said three schools and a health centre in the area had been closed due to the fighting.

It is believed that the Buin freedom fighters are also involved in the fight.

Mr Kamuai said the fight stemmed from the wounding of a young mother and her infant in a shootout during an armed robbery incident at a shop in the Panakei area near Tonu about two weeks ago.

The woman (bystander) was shot in the chest during the shootout and hospitalised at the Buka Hospital.

He said disgruntled relatives of the woman alleged that the mastermind of the robbery was one of Musingku’s men.

He said they went to the man’s house at Tonu last Wednesday at about 5am and shot him dead.

He said Musingku’s men retaliated and shot dead one of the woman’s relatives.

According to earlier media reports, teachers from the local schools, who had fled the area in fear of their lives, reported that six people had been killed in the fighting.

It was reported that there was heavy fighting in the Tonu area and many people have fled the area since the fight broke out between the two factions last Monday.

However, Mr Kamuai said these reports were yet to be confirmed.

"These are just rumours; I can confirm that there were only two deaths. I have sent my men into the area to investigate the deaths and also stop the fighting," he said.

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