By MIRIAM ZARRIGA
THREE men travelling to Port Moresby along the Hiritano Highway yesterday were killed in what police suspect was in retaliation to the death of a Central man on Wednesday night.
Police in Port Moresby and Central are bracing themselves for any outbreak of ethnic clashes in areas around the capital city, and are increasing their presence along the highway.
Asst Police Comm Anthony Wagambie Jr, the police commander in charge of the National Capital District and Central, confirmed that a man from Goilala in Central was killed on Wednesday night at a place called Maetins by men in a bus believed to be from the Highlands.
“Police were informed of the (Wednesday) incident and a unit from Central managed to stop the bus along the highway,” ACP Wagambie said.
He said only the driver was arrested as the others fled.
“He will assist police in identifying those involved,” he said.
Police in Central reported that there had been an altercation between bus passengers and some men from Goilala between 6pm and 7pm on Wednesday on the highway, leading to the man’s death.
Police managed to remove the road-blocks erected by the families of the man.
But yesterday morning, the three men allegedly from highlands were attacked near the Doa Police Station in a vehicle while they were travelling to Port Moresby.
Traffic flow on the highway was affected as police tried to take control of the situation.
“I have directed PPC Central Chief Insp Tapp Opai to ensure that this matter is dealt with immediately,” ACP Wagambie said.
“I appeal to people living along the Hiritano Highway, especially the Goilala people, to allow a free flow of traffic.
“The highway belongs to everyone.
“There are many people stranded on both sides.
“Police will maintain presence in the area and after a thorough assessment, vehicles will be allowed to travel, with police remaining in the area.”
He said people from Kairuku, Mekeo, Beraina and Gulf who used the highway daily were being affected.
ACP Wagambie said police were investigating what happened on Wednesday night that led to the death of the Goilala man.
“I appeal to our communities and leaders in NCD to ensure peace prevails,” he said.
“Allow police to deal with the situation.”
“I have directed Metropolitan Superintendent NCD to have police units patrol areas where these ethnic groups live to prevent any more violence.
“I want to urge the public in NCD to be aware that (the violence) may be spill over into the city.”
He said the province of the three men killed had not been confirmed.
“We expect more information once relatives come forward after identifying the deceased,” ACP Wagambie said.
By MIRIAM ZARRIGA