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Tribal Violence Claims 53 Lives in Papua New Guinea, Police Report

Photo: AFP

In Papua New Guinea's highlands, tribal violence has resulted in the tragic death of 53 individuals near Wabag, with police linking the incident to a conflict between Sikin and Kaekin tribes. Police Commissioner David Manning reported the retrieval of the bodies, emphasizing the unclear circumstances but noting reports of heavy gunfire in the area.

Graphic videos and photos from the scene depict stripped and bloodied bodies, revealing the brutality of the incident. The historical conflicts among Highland clans have been exacerbated by an influx of automatic weapons, heightening the intensity of clashes and perpetuating a cycle of violence.

Despite the government's attempts to address the issue through suppression, mediation, and amnesties, the impact remains limited. Approximately 100 troops have been deployed to the area, but challenges persist as security services find themselves outnumbered and outgunned.

Tribal killings often unfold in remote communities, marked by retaliatory raids or ambushes. The victims, including pregnant women and children, bear the brunt of the violence, characterized by extreme brutality such as machete attacks, burning, mutilation, and torture.

Police, facing resource constraints and low pay, have struggled to effectively intervene, leading to weapons circulating from the police force to tribal factions. Critics, opposing Prime Minister James Marape's government, demand increased police deployment and the resignation of the commissioner.

The escalating population since 1980 exacerbates land and resource strains, deepening tribal rivalries and contributing to the persisting cycle of violence. Despite various governmental efforts, the challenges of remote locations, resource limitations, and historical animosities continue to pose significant hurdles in curbing the alarming levels of brutality in Papua New Guinea.

Feb. 19, 2024 12:18 p.m. 1639

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