The National, Tuesday 21st August, 2012
By FRANK RAI
MORE than 300 men, women and children were left homeless early last Friday when gun-wielding youths went on a rampage in Lae, Morobe, burning down a settlement in the Kamkumung area.
Properties worth tens of thousands of kina were destroyed in the attack that was motivated by an intention to retaliate following a previous clash over the death of a young woman from Chimbu.
Those displaced from the rampage, mostly from the Sinasina district of Chimbu, are now taking refuge at the Omili Service Station. More than 25 permanent and semi-permanent houses at 15 Block in Kamkumung were set on fire by the youths.They were retaliating against the people from Chimbu.A young, single woman from Chimbu was reportedly raped, tortured and killed for refusing to marry a man from East Sepik three weeks ago. Chimbu community members burnt down the house of the suspect, who reportedly fled and went into hiding. According to community leaders John Woere Koma and Pr Plankus Miamel, the matter was reported to police and a mediation was held after the death of the woman. Koma and Miamel said a belkol payment of K5,000 was presented to the Chimbu community by the Sepiks while the matter was brought to the attention of the Lae Criminal Investigating Department (CID).Both leaders said the Chimbu community living at 15 Block got the shock of their lives at about 2am last Friday when youths with guns surrounded the settlement and set fire to all the houses.“All the families fled for their lives. “Properties and personal items worth thousands of kina were destroyed in the attack,” Miamel said. The Chimbu leaders blamed Lae police for failing to arrest the prime suspect who had gone ahead to organise the youths to burn the houses.
Meanwhile, Lae police confirmed the incident and said they were working round the clock to apprehend the main suspect and get those involved behind bars.
Police said most of the offenders had fled to other settlements in the city but were known to police and would be arrested soon.