Clash, buildings razed after death

Lae News, Normal

The National, Friday, June 3rd 2011


ONE permanent house and several roadside trade stores have been razed as an ethnic clash erupted late yesterday afternoon in Lae.
The trouble between Morobe youths and Highlanders at the Mambu market settlement, past Malahang, on the Busu Road, saw houses and stores believed to belong to Western Highlanders being set on fire by hundreds of people, most of them youths.
The youths then ransacked and looted the trade stores.
The stretch of road between Malahang Industrial Centre and Telikom College junction at Second Seven Cemetery corner was completely cut off to traffic.
Instead it was filled with people and debris, including drums, stones, old vehicle pieces and tree branches.
Hundreds of company and government workers living on the Busu back road were stranded in town after work yesterday because no buses were operating the Malahang to Bumayong route.
Many had to take another route.
But even with a skeleton force, police finally managed to control the fight which started at about 3.30pm yesterday.
Police could not maintain the crowd at first as they were simply outnumbered.
Police had to fire shots into the air to disperse the mob that kept coming and throwing stones, sticks and other objects at each other.
That kept the police at bay for some time as they were without any protective riot gear.
The Morobe youths managed to penetrate the area of the Hageners and started setting fire, ransacking and looting trade stores.
There were no casualties reported but the situated was tense after police pulled out at about 6.45pm.
The clash erupted after a Morobe youth, believed to be from Kabwum district, was killed at Mambu market yesterday morning.
Commuters to work in the morning reported seeing the body of a youth lying on the roadside and people standing around it.
It is believed the youth was drunk and went to the area but how he died had yet to be established.
The youth, who was allegedly rowdy, was attacked and killed near the stores at the Mambu market.
Police will move into the area again today to assess the situation.