Five die in city clash

Main Stories, National

The National – Monday, January 31, 2011

FIVE people have been reported killed over the weekend in Port Moresby in a violent clash between people of Hela and Enga origin.
The fight between the two groups reportedly started over a mobile phone at the Gordon market last Wednesday.
Metropolitan Superintendent Joseph Tondop said that unconfirmed reports put the death toll at five with a few hospitalised with injuries.
In related issues:
*The Gordon market is closed indefinitely until the matter is resolved;
*A peace mediation, brokered by police, is scheduled for 9am today; and
*Leaders call for the Vagrancy Act to be reintroduced to curb movement (see story on page 2).
Police reported that the fight
erupted after a drunk youth from the Hela region refused to give back a mobile phone he had snatched from a woman. Police said the argument accelerated into an ethnic clash with supporters from both sides joining in and fought using bush knives, sticks and stones, forcing the public to flee in all directions.
Gordon police were earlier outnumbered but were able to quell the tension with the help of police reinforcement from other stations.
The fight erupted again last Thursday forcing the market to close.
Tondop said that the criminal investigation division reported that two people were confirmed death while the other three slayings were yet to be confirmed.
According to reports he received, three people from Tari and two from Enga were killed.
The killings did not happen in one location and the fear was that people were targeted in all suburbs.
According to reports, one person was killed at Gordon, another killing occurred at 5-Mile with another at the Erima wildlife junction.
Sources said another person was killed at Waigani which forced the relatives to retaliate by chopping to death another at Gordon yesterday afternoon as he was trying to jump on a PMV bus.
A source said that another killing occurred at Gerehu yesterday evening, but police could not confirm the killing.
Meanwhile, Tondop appealed to all leaders from both groups to meet at the Jack Pidik Park for an urgent peace meditation starting at 9am today.
He said that the aim of the meeting was to appeal to both sides to stop the fight and help police identify the instigators of the fight from both sides.
People who wanted more information can contact him on his mobile 72648838 or his office on 3244282.
He also said that the Gordon market would be shut for an indefinite period until the conflict was resolved.
Police had warned the public to take precautions as people seemed to be taking law into their own hands by attacking anybody who either spoke Enga or Huli.