Simbai villagers murder visitors and ‘salesmen’

Main Stories, National
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The National, Tuesday 22nd November 2011

By ELIAS LARI
THIRTEEN people were killed when locals at the Kumbrup station in Simbai district, Madang, launched a surprise attack on them last Monday.
Relatives of those killed, all from the Jiwaka region of Western Highlands, told The National yesterday that locals at the border area had staged a surprise attack on the visitors during a gathering.
lThe incident took place at the border of Middle Ramu, Madang and Jimi.
An indeterminate number of people were missing and presumed killed by pursuing attackers or died from injuries sustained, medical officer at Tabibuga sub-district of Jimi Joseph Waim said last night.
Waim said he had received reports that four people were killed and burnt in a house, another three were mutilated beyond recognition and could not be retrieved and six others, including two women, were hacked to death.
The cause for the mass killing could not be established last night. One version ran that the disturbance started from an adultery allegation between the wife of a councillor in the area and a visitor.
Another version was that a fierce rivalry had ensued between locals in this remote border area where there is alluvial mining and visiting salesmen and women from Jiwaka.
As the local people had to fly in their goods, their mark-up was often expensive than those from Jiwaka, which are trucked and transported by people into the area.
This might explain why most of those killed were salesmen and women, Waim said.
Jiwaka Transitional Authority member Thomas Galye yesterday called on the government to immediately dispatch police into the troubled area before the violence gets out of hand.
Acting Jiwaka provincial police commander Insp Billy Kombel could not be reached for comment.
Galye said four bodies could not be retrieved because they were severely mutilated. Three were buried at Kumbrup and one at Kuima village, Jiwaka.
He said five of those killed were identified by their relatives as John Kolnga from Nondugl, Kongie Kari and his wife Lucy from Wara Mambal in Middle Jimi, Lina Kiawe and Alu Kiawe, both from Kol in upper Jimi.
Some of those missing were Dal Kengi, John Dal, Kom Kengdi and his son Kapal Kong from Nondugl.
He said the people of Jiwaka could not understand the reason for the attack by the Simbai people.
Galye said the attack took place during a cele­bration in the area.
He said it was normal that Jiwaka people tra­velled to and from the area to sell store goods and buy gold.
Galye condemned the killings and called on the Madang provincial government, the Jiwaka Transitional Authority, police and politicians to establish the motives and bring those responsible to justice.
He further urged family members not to take the law into their own hands but cooperate with authorities to resolve the matter peacefully and find those still missing in the jungles.