TWO DEAD, SIX HURT IN PORT MORESBY SKIRMISH

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 7) – Two men are dead and six others, including a child, are nursing bullet wounds after two ethnic groups fought each other in Port Moresby on Sunday night.

Another one was in a critical condition yesterday afternoon.

It is alleged one of the deaths and injuries to others were caused by the police in the process of stopping the fight between the Goilalas of Central Province and the Wanigelas of Koki settlemen.

The two ethnic groups clashed in a fierce fight on Sunday night around the Badili and Koki areas after a young man from Wanigela was stabbed to death, allegedly by two Goilala men who were drunk.

Police moved into the tense area the same night and were caught in the middle when the two groups started fighting again around 5am yesterday.

Several police vehicles were also stoned and a senior police officer who was addressing one party had to take cover in one of the police vehicles which had most of its windows broken.

A police officer who was at the scene said police fired shots and tear gas to quell the fighting.

But it was during that time a Kerema man was shot and several others wounded.

Wanigela chief Taxia Bogali alleged police shot the Kerema man, who is married to a Wanigela woman.

The metropolitan police superintendent was not available yesterday afternoon to verify details of the alleged shooting. But several policemen who were at the scene confirmed police wounded several people.

Eye witness David Tangi said the fighting was so violent that stones and other missiles were even thrown at the policemen.

Mr Tangi said that was the time when the police fired teargas and live bullets to disperse the crowd.

Also wounded by a stray bullet was a little boy.

Many business houses in Badili and Koki reported damage during the fight. Ela Motors Badili showroom window glasses were smashed and Big Rooster, Microfinance and other businesses suffered similar damage.

Roads were blocked and vehicles were diverted from the area and several schools in the neighbourhood were closed yesterday.

The situation was still tense last night and police were reportedly keeping watch.

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