The National – Tuesday, June 21, 2011
By JUNIOR UKAHA
TWO people are dead and 10 others seriously wounded in fighting that has left business houses, public facilities and offices in the township of Popondetta closed since last Friday.
Northern provincial police commander Micah Anaiwe said the fighting started as a result of a killing at the Bongoho River.
He said a youth from Farope village, in the Higatu LLG, 3km from Popondetta, was stabbed by four suspects from the Bongoho Compound as he was trying to cross the Bongoho River last Wednesday.
“The suspects wanted to pull his bilum but he resisted, prompting them to stab him,” Supt Anaiwe said.
He said the deceased had been identified as Hensly Ganoka, 22, from Farope village, who died as a result of knife wounds to the back of his neck. Anaiwe said police were told of the killing and went into the area to calm the situation but, on June 17, relatives of the deceased mobilised and went into town in truck-loads to attack the settlers at Bongoho compound.
Anaiwe said during the ensuing fight, another person, Leonard Keke, 24, from Hanjin, Kokoda area, was shot dead.
“The Guba market was burnt down during the fight and we received reports that about 10 people were critically injured,” he said.
He said shops and public facilities had to close from last Friday and remained shut over the weekend out of fear of being attacked by opportunists and members of the fighting factions.
“Police have taken control of the situation but things are still tense,” he said.
He brushed aside media reports that a riot had taken place in the township saying “it is not a riot as assumed by the media but a fight” between two isolated groups.
He said the relatives of the youths, who died in the fight, had held a meeting on Sunday and had demanded the provincial government pay K50,000 as belkol money within 48 hours so they could make funeral arrangements.
He said they blamed the provincial government for being lax in allowing settlers to live near the township.
That, they claimed, had created law and order problems.