HAVOC ON PNG HIGHLANDS HIGHWAY

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 31, 2008) - An early morning kidnap by gun-wielding Yamka tribesmen yesterday ignited a roadblock near Anglimp along the Highlands Highway, creating commotion and disrupting traffic for hours.

Relatives of the kidnapped man from the Kuli tribe smashed two police vehicle windscreens with bush knives when police attempted to clear the highway.

Police fired warning shots into the air and dispersed the rowdy crowd after four hours of road blockage. After the attempt, a man was admitted to the Mt Hagen General Hospital after he was wounded in the leg by a stray bullet. The man, who was heading for Banz with some relatives in a bus to sell coffee, was shot during the commotion.

Several private vehicles also had their windscreens damaged during the commotion that followed.

PMV buses loaded with passengers heading down the Highlands Highway lined up outside Mt Hagen police station as early as 7:30 a.m. calling on the police to clear the highway for them to travel. Others off-loaded passengers on either side of the roadblock which was set up on a bridge.

When some vehicles forced their way through the roadblock, the armed Kuli tribesmen held up a Wahgi Valley Transport truck and punctured its tires on the bridge, completely sealing the highway. The truck was later removed under heavy police presence.

The kidnap occurred at the Kindeng block settlement early yesterday when armed Yamka tribesmen raided his home and fired shots into the air and took the man, known as Joseph Rol. The younger brother of the captive was slashed and crippled by the Yamka tribesmen last year during a street brawl near the Mt Hagen police station. A compensation demand given to the Yamkas is still pending.

According to an eye-witness, the kidnapping happened after relatives of the victim allegedly went on a rampage and took some coffee knapsack sprayers used in a plantation owned by a Yamka businessman in Kindeng block on Tuesday.

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