The National – Tuesday, December 7, 2010
By ANGELINE KARIUS and JEFFREY ELAPA
TWO Highlands groups clashed violently over the weekend in a predominantly Papuan settlement in Moresby South.
Police said yesterday that the ethnic clash between Engans and Eastern Highlanders at the Horse Camp settlement at Sabama, in NCD, led to four people being hospitalised with gun shot wounds while at least 10 homes were razed.
Acting police superintendent of operations Jim Namora and the coordinator of the Port Moresby General Hospital (PMGH) accident and emergency unit Dr Sam Yockopua confirmed the casualties.
Many families were affected and office workers had to stay away from work yesterday in fear of being attacked or their homes being burnt down. Namora said what started as a fight between the two Highlands group spread when settlers from other parts of the country took sides, based on which side of the settlement they resided in.
Horse Camp had been an exclusive settlement of coast people from Gulf and Western since the 1960s until Highlanders started buying blocks from the early settlers in the past 20 years.
Police said yesterday that the weekend clash carried over from an earlier fight between the two groups early last month during which a youth was knifed in the leg after being accused of stealing from an Engan man.
Police turned up in numbers yesterday at the settlement to keep the tense situation under control, adding that both sides were well armed.
They fear one group may pre-empt an all-out fight by a sneak raid during the night.
An Eastern Highlands community leader, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the latest clash erupted on Sunday after compensation negotiations to settle the previous clashes between the two groups failed.
Residents told the media yesterday that they heard several gun shots during Sunday night which police said they were investigating to determine that nobody was shot and wounded.
Of the buildings torched, according to police, was a trade store owned by a former Enga provincial assembly member Michael Magal.
Two Westerners were wounded by stray bullets fired by police to defuse what was a volatile situation.
PMGH’s Yockopua confirmed admitting two people with gun wounds, adding that another two had spear wounds while a fifth person was treated for wounds sustained when he was hit by a vehicle during the confrontation.
He said that the identities of the four people were still unknown but they would be kept under tight security as further treatment venues were sought because of the seriousness of their injuries.
Engan leader and spokesman Luke Yom claimed the Engan were frustrated over the continuous stealing by youths from the area and the fight was the result of that frustration.
Police said last night that the tension was still high and that anything could happen because, they believed, both groups were armed with bush knives, sticks, rocks and bows and arrows.