By PISAI GUMAR
THE ongoing Sugu Valley tribal war death toll has risen to at least 30, up from 11 on May 23.
And, another bloody battlefront, involving at least six tribes, has erupted in Sumbura near Poroma with multiple deaths reported in 24 wards.
At Sugu Valley in Kagua-Erave, Southern Highlands, 26 bodies have been recovered to date. Six others are feared killed but the bodies have yet to be recovered.
Akar village locals Jenny Kale, Max Awa and Jack Wano told The National that rival tribes – Liareba, Perepe and Wambeya – had allegedly killed 18 of their people.
Liareba’s Rocky Kula lamented that eight of his tribe members were also killed in the running battles involving guns, bows and arrows.
Wano said those killed were 13 men, three women, a six-year-old and a two-week-old baby.
He said the mother of the six-year-old was shot on her right hand while the baby and mother, from Finschhafen, Morobe, were both killed.
The National toured Sugu Valley over the Queen’s Birthday weekend and found houses on both sides of Sugu River and basin razed.
Thousands of homeless women and children have taken refuge in caves and forests along the mountain ranges of Popa-Naguri, Tema-Pablato and Ilimikusu.
Among the debris were the Sumbura Health Centre and Akar Elementary and Primary schools.
On Saturday, local businessman Maita Yawi, Southern Highlands deputy governor James Mali, community and church leaders met and discussed how to find an amicable way to restore peace. Police were also present at the meeting.
Wano said Akar villagers of Ya’ala tribe who were injured by bullets, knives, bows and arrows could not seek medical treatment at Kagua station for fear of being ambushed and attacked.
The ethnic war that erupted on Feb 10, involving nine council wards, is between the Angema, Roga 1 and 2, Yaugo 1 and 2 and Dorowalaiya combo versus the Liareba, Perepe and Wambeya group.
“We are talking to rival tribal leaders to broker peace despite the tension and continuous clashes,” Yawi said.
“The fighting cannot continue unabated. It is tarnishing our communities here, leaving a very negative image.
“Please stop fighting. We must uphold civility, keep up with current times, technology and development.”
Kula said Liareba tribe members had laid down their arms and were prepared for peace negotiations.
“But some of the leaders are inciting the fighting and killing by providing guns and ammunition. They must be stopped.”
By PISAI GUMAR