A COUPLE has been kidnapped while 33 families are homeless after a dawn raid by Buang people on Labu-Talie village near Lae at the weekend.
Village elders said yesterday the couple, who have four young children, were kidnapped from their garden near the mouth of the Buang River last Friday morning.
Villagers were not aware of the incident until late on Friday evening when they were alerted by a fellow villager who had gone to the garden and found widespread destruction of food crops and traces of blood on the ground.
The villagers mobilised and followed the trail of blood on the ground to the mountains but could not find the couple.
Yesterday, a search was carried out with the help of police but only pieces of clothing were found along the track.
Labu-Talie elders said they did know what had happened to the couple.
Their house was one of the 33 homes burnt down by Buang people during the attack early on Saturday morning.
The couple’s four young children are being cared for by relatives.
A police unit, which went to the area, returned to Lae yesterday afternoon to provide a full report on the situation to the provincial police commander Supt Peter Guinness.
Villagers have asked for more police support in the search for the missing couple.
At a meeting yesterday, village leaders appealed to their young men not to take the law into their own hand but to allow the law to take its course. Village elders said firearms were used in the raid on Labu-Talie village, with shots fired.
No-one was killed or injured but damage to the houses and other properties was widespread.
Councillor Ronald Salasie from Labu-Talie village said a dispute started in September between the Labu-Talie people and Buang villagers over a piece of land that the Buangs had been digging, after saying that wartime arms had been buried there.
The Labu-Talie people chased them away and the dispute grew from then on.
Police issued five preventive orders on both parties not to take the law into their own hands but the Labu-Talie elders said the Buangs had disregarded the orders, destroying their food gardens on their way home.
The situation has now led to the kidnapping of the couple and the raid on the village. Police are expected back in the area today to search for the couple.