By MIRIAM ZARRIGA
A TEAM of policemen escorting three alleged killers back to Goroka was stopped by angry villagers in a three-hour standoff, demanding that the suspects be handed over to them to deal with.
Eastern Highlands police commander Supt Michael Welly told The National that the three suspects were among the armed men who had attacked the villagers returning home in a truck on last Wednesday.
Two villagers were killed and two badly injured.
A police team from Goroka was sent to Okapa on Monday to investigate the matter and managed to arrest three of the alleged killers.
But as the police team approached Offafina village, angry villagers stopped the vehicle and ordered the policemen to hand over the three suspects to them.
“The armed (villagers) easily overpowered my men. However, my men remained calm and dealt with the issue by speaking to them. (The villagers) let them go after a three-hour standoff,” Supt Welly said.
He said the villagers from Pusarasa and Awande were returning home last Wednesday from an event at Kosena village.
The truck was held up by armed masked men who threatened to shoot everybody in the vehicle.
The armed men ordered four of the villagers to get off the vehicle and attacked them with knives.
Two from Awande village died instantly while the other two were taken to the Okapa Health Centre then Goroka Hospital.
The villagers later managed to round up some of the suspects, killing two of them.
Police were sent on Monday and arrested three of the suspects
“Policemen were surrounded by the clansmen who wanted to kill the three suspects. But after three hours of negotiating, they managed to get the three back to Goroka to be detained,” Supt Welly said.
“I commend my men for their bravery when facing a trying situation where the opposing clan wanted to kill the three men in front of my policemen.
“I commend them for saving the three lives. I want to also thank East Okapa president Kepi Anako for standing by my police offices and negotiating for the suspects to be moved out.”