admin's picture

Warring groups from Hela and Enga clash

By Peter Korugl PNG PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 31, 2011) – Port Moresby’s biggest fresh produce market at Gordons was turned into a battle field on the weekend and five people were hacked to death and vendors and buyers turned away.

Tension was still high yesterday and the market remained closed throughout the weekend. Police were keeping a close eye on the two warring ethnic groups – Tari people from Hela Province and Engans.

The clashes, started on Thursday and continued to Sunday. A Tari man was ambushed yesterday morning at the Gordon Market bus stop. He was chopped up with a bush-knife and killed.

Port Moresby Police last night confirmed the deaths – three people from Hela and two from Enga while many others were seriously injured and hospitalized, as fear spread among the Southern Highlands and Enga communities in the city.

Police and government leaders have described the clashes and killings as barbaric and animalistic, urging the two groups to bring the killings to an end before it spreads throughout the city.

"We are working around the clock to isolate the problem at Gordons from spreading. It is very dangerous for such ethnic violence to erupt in Port Moresby where we have people from Southern Highlands and Enga living all over the city. We do not want the violence to spread," Metropolitan Commander Chief Superintendent Joseph Tondop said last night.

Chief Supt. Tondop said the problem started on Thursday when groups of armed men from Hela and Enga fought over the four days, resulting in the deaths, the latest yesterday morning when one man was said to have been beheaded at the Gordons bus stop.

The city’s top-cop said the conflict must be resolved quickly and he called a meeting of the leaders of those involved to attend a peace meeting at 5-Mile today, to discuss ways to end the conflict and allow normalcy to return to the city.

"Port Moresby is a modern city and I can’t understand why people restore to such barbaric acts. We have a police station there at Gordons for them to take any issue they have there for police to assist them," Chief Supt. Tondop said.

Two Government Members of Parliament (MPs) agreed with Mr. Tondop and called on the warring factions to stop and allow business to resume at the Gordons market.

The fighting forced the market, run by the National Capital District Commission to close down and hundreds of farmers were turned away on the weekend with their fresh produce.

Groups of armed men, believed to be from Tari and Enga fought over the three days and five people were killed, the latest yesterday morning when one man was said to have been beheaded at the Gordon bus stop.

The Government MPs and the police have confirmed the fighting, with the politicians calling on the warring factions to stop and allow business to resume at the Gordons market.

"Port Moresby is a modern city, where people who live here are civilized. We just cannot allow people, who have no respect for the rights and freedoms of others, the respect for the laws of this land to arm themselves and go attacking and killing each other at public places," Moresby North East MP Mr. Andrew Mald said yesterday.

"People who engage in this sort of animalistic and barbaric behavior, must be sent back to their homes. Port Moresby is no place for them," the MP said.

Education Minister and Tari/Pori MP James Marape yesterday strongly condemned the ethnic clash and described it as a primitive and uncivilized way of settling disputes and appealed to the parties to lay down their arms and let the police deal with their problem.

"This is the jungle law of another era which should never be entertained in a modern and civilized city like Port Moresby," he said. Mr. Marape said while he did not condone the barbaric acts, he was also mindful that people from other areas like Hela or Southern Highlands could be involved as well. "I am taking responsibility if genuine Taris are involved and I have set up a committee to help police round up the culprits and hand them over to police to deal with," he said.

Gordons police spokesman said many people with serious knife-wounds were rushed to the hospital and the deceased were all slashed with bush knives and speared.

The reports say the fighting erupted after a drunken youth from Enga bumped into a Tari vendor at the gate of the market. An argument developed between the two men and the Tari man pulled out a bush knife and slashed the Engan.

The reports say when the Engans saw the attack on their tribesman, they mobilized and hunted down the Taris, sending everyone at the market running in fear of being attacked.

"The Police came and fired teargas to disperse the two groups but they fired the gas in the market place. It was a busy day … a lot of people were affected badly by the gas too," Elizabeth, a mother of seven, who was with some of her children at the market said. The fighting continued into Saturday and Sunday, bringing all activities at the Gordons Market closed for the entire weekend.

Mr. Mald said such behavior by the people brings shame on the government and leaders from the two provinces should deal with those involved and move them out of the city.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment