The National, Friday July 19th, 2013
By JUNIOR UKAHA
A FIGHT over Australia’s last State of Origin rugby league finale has claimed the life of one man in Lae and enormous damage to property as fans fought after the game on Wednesday night.
A man was shot dead and several properties were burnt to the ground following a fight at the Bumbu settlement in Lae, Morobe.
The fight started when two groups of youths attacked each other over the result of the Queensland-New South Wales match played at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney.
Eyewitnesses said both parties were under the influence of alcohol.
One of those at the scene, Berry Kaupa, from Sinasina, Chimbu, said drunken youths from Bundi Camp and Nawae Block had an argument and fought around 10pm at Nawae Block.
“A group of youths from Bundi Camp went to buy steam (home brewed spirit) at Nawae but they teased a group of youths there, calling them losers,” Kaupa said.
“The Nawae youths retaliated and chased them.”
Kaupa said during the melee someone threw a stone into the premises of a Western Highlander which hit the wall of his house.
He said the Western Highlander took out a gun and shot indiscriminately at the fighting youths.
“It was dark and we could not work out what happened but we later found out that a man was hit by a bullet,” Kaupa said.
The killing angered the Nawae community who mobilised and burnt down two houses belonging to the suspect, Kaupa said.
The fighting continued into the morning where pop-guns, wire catapults, stones, sticks and bush knives were used to chase all Western Highlanders living in the area.
“Between 6am and 8am another four houses and three trade stores belonging to the Western Highlanders were raided and set on fire,” he said.
Lae metropolitan commander Supt Iven Lakatani confirmed this.
He said he had immediately sent a police unit into the fighting zone on Wednesday night after receiving reports of the incident but they were forced to return when they were stoned by the fighters.
“We are yet to establish the cause of the fight and make arrests,” Lakatani said.
“We went in there this (yesterday) morning and talked with the community leaders to stop and they have agreed to remove the road blocks they have set up.”
Police said a man from Sepik was shot dead and his body was at the Angau Memorial Hospital.
“Police have commenced investigations into the matter,” Lakatani said.
He said separate investigations will be carried out on the killing, arson and fighting.
Sources from Nawae Block said the situation was still tense.