Police, villagers in heated exchange

National, Normal


A VILLAGER was shot and later died, five were wounded and two others are in critical condition after an exchange of firearms with police in remote Sialum in Tewai LLG, Morobe province, last week.
Two policemen also received minor injuries with hits from arrows and are recovering. 
Snr Insp David Warap from the Morobe police said yesterday that the villagers were from Kip and the incident occurred last Thursday after eight of his policemen were dispatched to the district to settle a protracted feud between the Ririwo and Kanome villages, near the cholera outbreak area.
Snr Insp Warap said the situation had gone out of hand with a tribal war on Sept 8 that resulted in destruction of houses and gardens and an unconfirmed report of a death.
While there, police were informed of a cult group in Kip village and this cult movement was threatening people to obtain pigs, money and other properties.
Snr Insp Warap said when the policemen were on their way to Kip, a councillor had already gone ahead and informed the villagers to attack the police.
Outnumbered, the eight officers turned around to return to Sialum station but were pursued by the Kip villagers.
When the officers arrived at Kalasa health centre, the pursuers were still following about 2km away.
A battle ensued when the villagers reached the health centre, Snr Insp Warap said.
At this time, he said the situation was tense with the reported death of the villager from the police gun shot.
Snr Insp Warap said they were treating the situation as serious because there was a possibility that villagers might attack the health centre.
He said since last Friday, he made a request for a helicopter from the provincial government but was disappointed because there was no quick and favourable response to assist the policemen who are still in Sialum.
Snr Insp Warap pointed out that cult was not only a law and order problem but a major developmental problem because of lack of government service.
He said his men were risking their lives to protect the Sialum government station in case of retaliation from the villages.
If the provincial government did not assist quickly, Snr Insp Warap would be forced to recall his men to Lae.