Villages embroiled in tribal violence . . .
Tribal violence in the province of Hela in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has led to the massacre of 24 people this past week. Violence began in Munima village, and was followed by retaliatory actions in the village of Karida. The area is known for instances of tribal violence resulting in killings, reports of sorcery-related massacres, and sexual violence against women. Reports of the most recent deaths indicate a targeting of women and children, including two pregnant women.
Prime Minister Marape responds . . .
In a post made public on Facebook, newly-appointed Prime Minister James Marape denounced the violence, which occurred in his electorate, and warned the perpetrators that he was, “coming for them.” The Prime Minister also decried the lack of police in the area, which currently has only 60 officers for a population of 400,000. The local police force lacks both the numbers and the training to stop the decades-long violence between local ‘warlords,’ feuds made more deadly by an influx of modern weapons.
Calling on allies . . .
Policing the region is complicated given that last month the country’s police minister fired and replaced the police commissioner, who has in turn launched legal action against the government. Community activists have been calling on regular PNG allies like Australia and New Zealand, both of whom have made large economic investments in the strategically-located country this year, for support from locally-based armed forces.
- Australia Broadcast News: Papua New Guinea massacre of women and children highlights poor policing, gun influx
- BBC News: Papua New Guinea: Women and children killed in tribal massacre
- Aljazeera: Deadly tribal violence erupts in Papua New Guinea