ETHNIC VIOLENCE ERUPTS IN PORT MORESBY SETTLEMENT

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Warring parties chase, chop each other up

By Todagia Kelola PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Dec. 7, 2010) – As a unique country, Papua New Guinea thrives on unity in diversity but that can have its own detrimental shortcomings if not harnessed well.

When you put people of different cultures, backgrounds and attitudes into one basket, you create an explosive cocktail that can explode if something goes wrong. This is what is being experienced at Sabama suburb in Port Moresby where the situation is very volatile with an ethnic clash between two groups, Goilalas and Eastern Highlanders versus Engans, Taris and Keremas.

[PIR editor’s note: Goilalas come from the Goiala District in the Central Province and Eastern Highlanders from the Eastern Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Engans comprise of an ethnic group from Enga Province in the Highlands, Taris are from a town in the Southern Highlands Province and Keremas are from the capital of Gulf Province in PNG.]

More then seven houses and two trade stores have been ransacked and burnt to the ground since Sunday and the situation is still tense. Both groups are using bows and arrows, stones, bottles and any object that they can lay their hands on and they are chasing each other to and from each others territory since the confrontation erupted.

Police cannot give a real report on the incident when contacted but they did meet with leaders of both warring parties late yesterday afternoon where the leaders gave an undertaking not to take up arms and go for mediation. A community leader said the ethnic clash did not just start but began three weeks ago when a Wabag man chopped off a Goilala youth for bag snatching which led to the Sabama market being closed down for three days. He said the same Wabag group also chopped off an Eastern Highlanders feet when he was involved in a hold-up of a vehicle and as a result compensation was demanded but that was not fulfilled by the Wabag community until Sunday when the ethnic clash erupted.

Sabama market and the supermarket which serve over 1,000 people living around Joyce Bay, Kira Kira village and Sabama will be closed for an indefinite period and their closure will certainly affect families living in these areas. The situation is tense and police are monitoring the situation.

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