By PHILIP KEPSON
A LAWYER yesterday told of how he escaped death by fleeing Kandep last week, spending four nights in the bush before reaching Wabag, the capital of Enga province.
Enga provincial legal officer Justin Isaac said he fled Kandep on Friday on foot by crossing several lakes and mountains, and spending four nights in the bush.
He said his hired vehicle, a brand new Toyota Landcruiser, was burnt by armed villagers who set up an ambush at Kokas village near Kandep High School.
He said the villagers felled trees across the road and ambushed more than 300 police and election officials when they tried to take the ballot papers to Mt Hagen on Friday.
He said a policeman was wounded in a fierce exchange of gunfire while several villagers were also shot near Kandep High School.
Some police personnel and election officials who were trapped in the ambush said on their arrival in Wabag that the police were outnumbered and outgunned by the villagers.
They said if the backup units did not arrive, it would have been a massacre.
Mr Isaac, who arrived in Wabag on Tuesday, said a particular group of men were hunting him from Kandep station to kill him but God saved his life when he escaped through the Margarima-Mendi road to Wabag.
“They burnt my vehicle and chased me from Kandep across Wage and onto Margarima to kill me for some reason. But I managed to escape by the mercy of God,” Mr Isaac said.
He said the innocent people in Kandep were currently living in fear of being attacked because supporters of a candidate who were armed with high-powered guns were still hunting supporters of other candidates.
Mr Isaac said the number and the types of guns he saw the villagers holding were unbelievable.
“I could not believe that the people out there had such high-powered guns. In fact, they had more than the police personnel. It would have been a different story if backup police personnel were not called to assist on Saturday,” he said.
Mr Isaac said the Government should set up an investigation to establish the identities of the leaders involved in arming the people who held the police, election officials and the general public hostage last weekend.
“The Government should take last weekend’s disaster in Kandep seriously by setting up an investigation to bring those involved in causing the problems to justice, including the gunmen,” he said.