By PETER WARI
TWO students attending a primary school in the Tari-Pori district of Hela were among 19 people killed in a week over a land dispute.
One of the female students was killed with her mother, a ward councillor said.
Kondi One councillor Howard Hariki, from Mulipi village in the Tebi local level government (LLG) area, said the two students killed were Sheila Tony, who was preparing to do grade 7 and Mark Tomiape, 6, attending Hoiebia Primary School. Tony and her mother Jay were killed while they were returning from their garden.
Hariki said he was their councillor and a relative, and they were innocent and no connection to the fight.
“We (relatives) are confused why the innocent students were killed,” he said. “They went to the extremes of gang-raping an underage girl, who is admitted at the hospital.
“I represent 1,900 people from five clans in the ward and killing of the three people from there forced everyone to seek refuge elsewhere.”
Hariki said the fight was between two clans in the Tagali LLG.
The suspected killer ran away and went to Mulupi and hid.
He said they told the suspect several times to return to his village as they did not want to become victims of their tribal conflict but he continued to ignore them and went into hiding.
“We could do nothing as he was armed. When the peace negotiation went nasty, the deceased person’s maternal relatives from Hawa joined the fight that escalated and they were made a scapegoat for the suspect’s failure to return to his village,” Hariki said.
“Tribal fights in the Tebi LLG have now ceased and the 19 councillors took the lead with warring tribes to make peace and this was a tribal fight from another LLG that had affected them.”
By PETER WARI