TRIBES CLASH IN PNG’S ENGA PROVINCE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 19) - Several people were injured yesterday when two groups attacked each other on the streets of Wabag town, Enga Province.

This followed an armed hold-up and attack on the provincial administrator Dr. Samson Amean on Tuesday evening some kilometers outside Wabag by a gang.

Wabag town was turned into a battleground when the tribesmen of Dr. Amean and another group clashed, resulting in injuries to several people and arrests of two community leaders, police and eyewitnesses told the Post-Courier.

Highlands police commander Chief Superintendent Simon Kauba yesterday said police in Wabag had been placed on full alert to prevent further escalation of the fight as they try to bring the two groups together to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

"Tension is very high in Wabag at the moment. Our men are on full alert and we will maintain surveillance for the next 24 hours to ensure that the fighting does not continue," Kauba said.

He said policemen expected to make more arrests while they met with the two groups in town to negotiate a quick end to the fight.

According to reports, Amean was attacked and robbed at Rakamanda Village, several kilometers outside of Wabag Town, by a group of armed men as he was returning home after seeing the body of Justice Moses Jalina off at the Kagamuga Airport in Mount Hagen, Western Highlands, on Tuesday.

It was not established if Amean suffered any injuries but the reports say he was rushed to Wabag where he reported the attack to police.

Kauba said when police went to Rakamanda early yesterday, the suspects had fled and their appeal to the villagers to hand them over failed.

However, Amean’s tribesmen, on learning about the attack and the lack of co-operation by the villagers at Rakamanda, took matters into their hands and went on a rampage at the main market in town later in the morning.

"That is the main market and there were people from all over the country there at that time who fled in all directions for their lives. The vendors left their foodstuff and fled as well,’’ a witness said.

Kauba said the fight spread up the hill towards the Wabag Primary School and Radio Enga where substantial damage was done to properties at the radio station.

"Our houses were stoned. Several louver blades at the main studio complex and office as well as the staff houses were smashed," a senior NBC staffer said.

"Our families locked themselves in their homes in fear of their lives as the fighting went on around them for at least one hour."

The reports say police quickly moved in and dispersed the two groups and brought the situation under control.

"I urge the two groups to meet and find a peaceful settlement. We will come down hard on anyone who causes further trouble," Kauba said.

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