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Rival tribes battle destroying property, pigs, crops

By James Apa Gumuno PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Jan. 4, 2010) – In Papua New Guinea, the MOGE Milemp clansmen went on a rampage by burning down houses, trade stores, slaughtering pigs, destroying crops and other properties belonging to the Moge Pagamb clansmen in New Town on Saturday.

The mayhem is believed to be related to a brawl in a lodge in Mt Hagen, Western Highlands, last Thursday.

Several houses and trade stores were razed but the extent of the damages could not be confirmed immediately.

The Milemp clansmen allegedly armed with high-powered guns, opened fire in Pagamb’s territory at about 4pm.

The quarrel started in a lodge when some drunkard Moge tribe members fought among themselves.

Since the fight was between Moge tribesmen, Pagamb Councilor Jacob Yak told both parties gathered in New Town on Saturday morning that they should resolve the problem peacefully today.

However, the Milemp clansmen launched the surprise attack hours later.

Former provincial assembly member and spokesman for Pagamb Simon Numa said yesterday that his people were not prepared for the attack.

"My people had to run for their lives without taking anything out of their houses because the other clansmen were open firing at all directions.

"A young woman identified as Baijah Makala was shot on her right thigh and three other clansmen were admitted to Mt Hagen General Hospital with gunshot wounds

"A bystander from Kandep district, Enga province, who was chewing beetle nut at a local market some 100m away from the lodge was killed when he was shot in the head," he said.

Mr. Numa said: "What has happened has already happened and we will not retaliate.

"We will take the matter to court and let the law take its course to resolve the problem peacefully.

"The Moge tribesmen are peace-loving people and we will not fight among ourselves.

"There are avenues available to resolve the matter amicably and fighting is not the answer to the problem," he said.

"We want to maintain peace with the Milemp clansmen and resolve the problem peace-fully in court."

Miss Baijah said she was standing outside her house when she was hit by a bullet.

The Pagamb clansmen told The National that they were upset with Mt Hagen police for the slow response after the attack.

"We called the police several times.

"The police arrived some 40 or 50 minutes after the rampage.

"If the police had responded quickly, some properties would have been saved.

"I blame the provincial liquor licensing board for not stopping the sale of beer during the festive season," Mr. Numa said.

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