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Papua New Guinea

18 dead in machete massacre

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE

It has been described as a massacre where 18 people were hacked to death with machetes and axes by tribesman with murderous intent.

The incident took place in the township of Porgera in the Enga Province on Wednesday. According to PNG police, this was unrelated to the elections and arised from a conflict between two tribes who were claiming ownership of the gold mines in Porgera.

Caretaker Prime Minister James Marape has declared a state of emergency for the area where at least 70 people have now been killed because of the tribal conflict.

“We have called our additional manpower from both the military and police, not just for Porgera but for other areas that need special assistance as well.” Mr Marape told the Post Courier newspaper in PNG.

“We will beef up security as election requirements have diluted normal police work and the present killing is related to an ongoing tribal fight.”

PNG police stated that it was a killing frenzy that lasted an hour and all victims were going about doing their day to day chores when the group attacked them.

Among the dead are five women and the police are now trying very hard to beef up numbers in the area as retaliation is expected.

Currently there are 150 police officers in Porgera but severely outnumbered by the tribesmen, some of whom are carrying automatic weapons.

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Police Commissioner David Manning said in a police statement that the PNG Defence Force was in the process of moving into Enga.

“120 soldiers from the 2nd PIR Bravo Company were sent in yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon. They are based in Wabag and once all logistics are in place, they will further deploy to the electorates of Porgera, Laiagam, and Kompiam and join their RPNGC MS counterparts who are currently on the ground,” he said.

Police Commissioner David Manning talking to some of the Enga Provincial election officials. Picture- Royal PNG Constabulary

Mr Manning said the task force was given 60 days to restore the rule of law in the area, secure the mine and provide protection for repairs to be done on wilfully damaged bridges.

“We received reports of continuous killings in Porgera that began over the weekend. Priority deployment is to the Porgera valley, to quell the fighting between the local Porgereans and settlers from other parts of Enga Province,” he said.

According to PNG police, this was unrelated to the elections and arised from a conflict between two tribes who were claiming ownership of the gold mines in Porgera. Picture – Barrick Gold Twitter

“We have received urgent pleas to also evacuate non-Engans who currently work up there to be escorted to safety.”

The mines at Porgera are operated by Barrick Gold Corporation who have shown an interest in reopening the mines, however the violence has been one of the factors delaying this.

It has been described as a massacre where 18 people were hacked to death with machetes and axes by tribesman with murderous intent. Bloody images of victims are circulating on social media. Picture- Selian Jack Facebook

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