By YVONNE HAIP
POLICE in Southern Highlands province have run out of teargas that they normally use to disperse riots or quell fighting.
Provincial police commander Supt Jimmy Onopia said due to limited funding within the department, they did not have teargas in stock and this had hindered their role greatly.
“We do not have any teargas, so there is no hope for us going in to stop a fight,” he said.
Supt Onopia said this after a fight in Mendi, which was sparked on Christmas Eve after a drunken brawl, was rekindled last Thursday and Friday.
He said police were supposed to use tear gas to disperse the rowdy crowd but without it, they could not do much.
He said during the fighting last week, three people were hospitalised and many houses were set alight, including the community hall, but could not confirm if there had been any deaths.
He said the fight was between the Longo and Wakwak tribes who live on the outskirts of Mendi town.
Supt Onopia claimed that high-powered firearms were also used by the two warring tribes.
He said because of this, police could not move in to contain the situation and had been forced to withdraw from the fighting zone.
Supt Onopia said when the fight started on Christmas Eve, police mediated between leaders of the two tribes and the dispute was solved.
However, he said last week when the tribes fought again, the police could not do anything because the warriors were using high-powered firearms, and they could not disperse them without teargas.