Marape declares LLG in Hela ‘a fighting zone’

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By CLIFFORD FAIPARIK
PRIME Minister James Marape, pictured, has declared the Tagali local level government in Hela “a fighting zone” which police officers and soldiers will enter to arrest those involved in the killing of 16 women and two children.
“This killing is not normal in a tribal fight,” he said.
“This killing has gone beyond the traditional fights rules of engagement where only warriors in the battle field are targeted.”
He said a State of Emergency currently in force in Hela would be extended to declare the Tagali LLG a fighting zone.
“Police and soldiers now in Hela will go to that area and use every means to round up the suspects and any guns and ammunition,” Marape said.
He sent his condolences to the relatives of those slain.
He also directed Police Minister Bryan Kramer and Hela Governor Philip Undialu to go to Hela today to visit his Tari-Pori electorate.
“Kramer will go there to confirm the number of deaths,” Marape said.
Hela has the LNG project, Kutubu oil field, Mt Kare gold mine and Hides gas that provides electricity to the Porgera mine in Enga.
Marape said the province of more than 400,000 people had since 1975 never had more than 60 officers.
“And because of lack of police presence, law and order problems have gone out of hand,” he said.
“Since 2011, I have been requesting additional police manpower.
“But police presence in the province have never been beefed up.
“That has allowed gunmen to roam around thinking they are heroes.”
Marape said the barbaric killings had prompted the Government to look at the Jerry Singirok and Bire Kimisopa gun reports.
“We will be announcing stiffer penalties like life imprisonment for people illegally in possession of guns and those hiding behind tribal fighting and continue to kill children throughout the country.”

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