ONE man is dead while a vehicle was torched and three houses and a trade store burnt to the ground at Morata in Port Moresby during a clash between five different ethnic groups of Highlanders on Sunday evening.
NCD metropolitan commander Chief Supt Fred Yakasa said yesterday the clash stemmed from an alcohol-related incident that occurred three weeks ago in which members of one of the five groups were out on a drinking spree.
He said they had ended up at the Power Plant Street at Morata where three of them were badly assaulted and received several injuries including a cracked jaw, cuts and wounds after they were accused of swearing at some bystanders from various parts of the Highlands.
Chief Supt Yakasa said after the incident, the assaulted group had called for compensation to resolve the matter, and the deadline ended on Sunday afternoon.
He said it was during the mediation process between them that “all hell broke loose”.
He said a community leader was stalling for time for two other groups meant to pay the compensation to turn up when the others got frustrated over the delay, resulting in the fight.
Chief Supt Yakasa said it was during the fight that an Eastern Highlander was murdered a few metres away from the meeting area.
He confirmed yesterday afternoon that an Eastern Highlands man was killed and his body left at the Port Moresby General Hospital morgue, adding that many others also received severe injuries.
He added that police had, however, yet to confirm the exact number of people who sustained injuries.
Chief Supt Yakasa was busy all day yesterday in meetings with the groups to help ease the tension.
He said police had a “fair idea” of the suspects’ identity but were calling for them to surrender voluntarily.
The matter was deferred to this Saturday to give ample time for the groups to regroup for the mediation process. Police are yet to confirm the cost of damages and about five police units will be camping at Morata for the next few weeks.