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Death toll 26 in highlands skirmish last week

By Peter Sea PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 12, 2010) - The long-running tribal fights in the Aiya local level government (LLG), Batri and Semberigi in Kagua/Erave Electorate in the Southern Highlands areas that have claimed 29 lives so far are a cause for major concern in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Chairman of the Kulumbu Community Services in Kagua Mr. Komeali Ropa has called on the educated elite to take the lead and help resolve the fights.

He has recommended to the Southern Highlands government to establish village courts covering the entire district; engage peace and good order committees to these trouble areas to mediate for peace; campaign vigorously for peace by involving council ward elites to spread law and order issues in their wards; increase police manpower in Kagua/Erave district; and declare fighting zone at Aiya LLG and deploy police immediately.

Mr. Ropa said the fighting had taken many lives and was not good news for investors participating in the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in the Southern Highlands and Hela provinces.

[PIR editor’s note: Another example of a Southern Highlands tribal fight was reported on Post-Courier titled "chicken and dog fight" occurring initially as a quarrel and ended with the death of 26 young men from two tribes. The whole area was deserted over a period of 12 years from 1989 to 2002. See story.]

"Millions of kina in properties have been destroyed, families have been displaced, food gardens destroyed and people are now living in fear. There have been two deaths in Semberigi, eight people have died in the Batri fight and 19 lives lost in the Aiya fight."

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