By JIMMY KALEBE
FOUR people have been killed in a conflict between settlers and landowners over land issues at Muya village, Wampar, Huon Gulf in Morobe, according to police.
Police said the killings were the result of a land dispute between landowners and Sepik settlers.
The killing, police said, started on Tuesday after Sepik settlers were alleged to have killed a young man of mix parentage of Central and Muya village in the Wampar local level government on March 14. Acting on information, police arrested and charged two suspects from the Sepik settlers and burnt down their houses relating to the March 14 killing.
Acting provincial police commander Chief Insp John Daviaga said on Tuesday two people were killed and on Wednesday the third one was murdered.
All three killings were allegedly carried out in retaliation for the first killing. Two suspects are in custody, Chief Insp Daviaga said.
He said at least 10 armed men from Sepik stormed some houses at Muya village on Tuesday morning, resulting in the death of a man from Southern Highlands and another from Kabwum in Morobe.
Police said one of them was shot with several arrows from a wire catapult and the other was chopped.
The fourth killing was mysterious.
The body was dumped near where the landowners lived on Wednesday morning.
“In retaliation to these four killings, locals from Munum and Yalu villages mobilised and are now checking on all Sepik settlers on their land. Police have gone in and spoken to the leaders of the two villages and the settlers since yesterday,” Chief Insp Daviaga said.
He said situation at the moment was tense and police were monitoring it closely since Tuesday afternoon to make sure the main Okuk Highway was free for public usage as investigations continued.
Chief Insp Daviaga is calling on community leaders from both sides to help police in identifying the suspects and handing them over to police.
He further appealed to landowners not to sell their land to settlers as these settlers come caused problems.
“I am calling on leaders from all levels to come and meet to come up with a solution to end the violence quickly as this is a serious case where people from other provinces may take sides if negotiations are prolonged, more killings may come,” he said.
Chief Insp Daviaga added that if it means that settlers have to be evicted, police will provide assistance to make sure it is done.
By JIMMY KALEBE