SHP cops to reach troubled zone by foot

National, Normal


SOUTHERN Highlands police will have to trek on foot for days to get into Semberigi to investigate killings in a fight in the area.
The Post-Courier reported in a front page report yesterday that 11 people were killed in a fight over benefits from the PNG LNG project.
But  Oil Search, operator of the Gobe project, said they have received reports that only two people have died in a fight that is not related to the LNG project.
Oil Search said the fight was a long-running tribal conflict between two villages which are located about 30km from the Gobe operations.
Semberigi is close to the Gobe and Kutubu oil fields in Southern Highlands province, but there is no road link to the area.
Police would have to get into Erave by road, and then trek for at least two days to get to Semberigi to investigate the killings and the destruction of properties.
It was alleged in the report that some people from the Imawe Bogasi clan, armed with high-powered guns, raided Pawale village and killed 11 people, injured many others and caused destruction to properties.
The report said the attack was in retaliation to the death of a man from the Imawe Bogasi clan allegedly killed by a Pawale villager last December.
Provincial police commander Supt Jimmy Onopia said yesterday from Mendi that he did not have the money to fly policemen in to the area.
Supt Onopia said his policemen would travel by road to Erave, leaving their vehicles there and travel by foot to Semberigi.
He said it would take at least two days for his policemen to walk with their food rations into the area.
He said Semberigi is located between Erave and Poroma districts and is only accessible by chopper and light airplane.
Supt Onopia said he cannot confirm the exact number of people killed until his men get into the area.