Buai price argument sparks riot

National

By ALPHONSE PORAU
AN attack on a villager in Gulf by a Highlander over the price of betel nuts sparked a riot in Kerema town last week.
Provincial police commander Silas Wayagure told The National yesterday that the incident happened last Thursday when a man from Opao village was stabbed on the ribs by a vendor from the Highlands following an argument over the price of betel nuts.
In retaliation, the villagers mobilised and went into town the next day and attacked Highlanders who had travelled there to buy betel nuts, Wayagure said.
He said the situation was contained by police with the help of people in town, but a few sustained injuries and some were robbed.
“Many Highlanders in the Kerema were chased and the women were attacked and robbed,” he said.
“Our policemen tried to contain the situation and were outnumbered, but with the help of some understanding people in town, they manage to control the situation.”
Wayagure said according to the people’s complaints and frustration, these things had been happening since the vendors started going into villages to buy betel nuts.
He said and they had filed a petition to the police and Gulf administration to try to stop people buying the nuts in villages.
“Locals are telling us that the Highlanders have being travelling up with bush knives and using them to threaten them in the villages to lower the prices of betel nuts,” Wayagure said.

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