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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Aug. 28) - An ethnic clash in Kimbe has left three people dead and more than 200 people homeless after a fight erupted between people of Morobe origin and those from Sepik and Simbu provinces.

These ethnic groups are settlers at section 15 Bush Camp outside Kimbe town.

[PIR editor’s note: Kimbe is the capital of the province of West New Britain in Papua New Guinea. According to Wikipedia, Kimbe is a port town on the great Kimbe Bay which boasts more than 60 percent of the coral species of the entire Indo-Pacific.]

The fight started after a young man of Sepik and Simbu parentage was shot dead at point black range in the early hours of last Sunday morning. His relatives alleged that some criminal elements from Kabwum in Morobe province, who are settlers in the camp, were responsible for his death.

People living in the area said the deceased, identified as Christopher Willy, 26, was shot as he was pursuing a group of men, who had broken into his tucker shop when he was away in another part of the bush camp. They said the father of the deceased was in the shop, but left to investigate reports that his son was involved in a fight. While he was out, the criminals broke into the shop and made off with goods in the store including money. Willie arrived minutes later and pursed them but was shot dead as he approached the thugs. His relatives retaliated by burning down houses, destroying food gardens and killing livestock.

An old woman from Kabwum in Morobe province, who was fast asleep in her house, was burnt to death, while a young man also from Morobe, died yesterday from knife wounds sustained in the attack.

More than 600 people at the settlement have fled the area in fear of being attacked. The situation at the settlement is very tense and Kimbe police have been deployed to the area to monitor the situation.

Kimbe is home to the Talasea people, but has people from other province who have gone to reside on blocks and settlements to work in the huge oil palm plantations, logging projects, and for government.

Violent clashes between the different ethnic groups are not uncommon. Provincial leaders at one stage considered repatriating ‘outsiders’ back to their own provinces, but abandoned the idea following widespread protests.

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