Porgera in chaos

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George Kakas

PORGERA in Enga is in shambles following the killing yesterday of 18 more people, while the district hospital remained closed after its employees fled when their homes were looted and torched.
Provincial police commander acting Supt George Kakas said: “It’s unprecedented, barbaric and inhumane.
“The tribesmen involved are criminals and opportunists who are now targeting innocent people.
“This is a senseless and animalistic behaviour and goes against all the ethical and cultural norms of Engan society.”
He said the killings were not election-related.
He also said that Porgera was cut off from the rest of Enga by a metre-wide, three-metre deep trench at Sirunki.
“Other (road) sections have been blocked by felled trees. It is a ghost town with total blackout and no one working,” he said.

The bodies of some of the people killed in Porgera yesterday. – Picture supplied

Kakas blamed the increasing criminal activities on the warring tribes in Paiam town and Porgera.
According to reports he received from two police mobile squads on the ground, three of those killed were from Porgera. The others were from Kandep also in Enga.
Kakas described the fighting as sporadic, with ambushes carried out by the Normali and Aiyale tribesmen.
“Now they are targeting innocent men, women and children who they think are allies of their enemies,” he said. “The (policemen) there are doing everything in their power to contain the fighting but it’s (hard to stop) the sporadic and guerilla-type killings and ambushes.”
Paiam District Hospital acting medical superintendent and surgeon Dr Jerry Hoga said hospital staff fled into the valley after their homes were destroyed and looted.
They are seeking refuge in Wabag.
The hospital, as of June, had 55 staff and attends to about 2,000 patients a month from Porgera and from as far as Kandep, Laiagam and Paiela.
“The hospital is closed for now,” he said. “All cases are to be referred elsewhere.
“All staff houses have been broken into and looted. Hopefully we will resume service after the elections.”
The Paiam hospital was closed until 2019 when it resumed operation with the help of the Porgera gold mine operator Barrick Niugini Ltd and the State.
Meanwhile, following his arrival in Port Moresby yesterday, Barrick Gold president and chief executive officer Mark Bristow expressed disappointment over the current conflict in Porgera Valley and elsewhere in Enga. (Story on P33)
“What we are seeing taking place in Porgera is inhumane and uncalled for,” he said.
“Barrick (Niugini) Ltd (BNL) made a commitment to the community, especially the women and children, to keep Paiam Hospital’s essential services open even after the mine was placed into care and maintenance operations.
“And to see the services closed now due to the tribal conflict and violence related to the elections is deeply saddening.”
The tribal war in Porgera claimed six lives on Tuesday.
Kakas said the fighting was not election-related.
“It has been ongoing for a couple of years over land ownership,” he said.
“Last night (Tuesday), six more people were killed, bringing the death toll to nine following the killing of three people, including a woman, last week.”