SIMBU provincial police commander Supt Joseph Tondop yesterday appealed to leaders of Kerowagi and Kup subdistricts to tell their people to stop the raging tribal warfare that has so far claimed two lives while several properties were destroyed.
The provincial peace and good order committee on Monday declared the area a fighting zone.
Supt Tondop went on air on NBC Radio Simbu on Monday night, appealing for leaders from Kup and Kerowagi who are living and working outside of their area to assist police in stopping the fight.
He said people on the ground and in the villages normally get support from their educated and well-to-do tribesmen living and working in towns and cities during tribal fights.
He said these educated and well-to-do leaders could dictate and influence the views and actions of their people on the ground to stop fights and it was important that the leaders forego their differences and ask their people to lay down their arms.
Supt Tondop said the fighting would have a drastic effect on the lives of the Kup people in the long run.
He said he was concerned that the fighting would also thwart the good work and peace initiatives undertaken in the area by local non-governmental organisation (NGO), the Kup Women For Peace.
Supt Tondop said Kup Women for Peace had been funded and supported by international donor organisation, Oxfam International, which has contributed a lot to the area to help peace initiatives undertaken by Kup Women for Peace.
He said the men folk, who are the main cause of the fighting, should be ashamed of their actions and stop the fighting as it only affected the livelihood of the women and children, who are most times scattered and homeless.
He said with the fighting zone declared, police would look at shutting off all entry and exit routes into the fighting area while collecting intelligence reports on the ground.
He said any person in possession of weapons in public places would be arrested and charged while people assembling or moving around in
large numbers would
also be arrested en masse and charged with illegal assembly.
Supt Tondop said he was still waiting for the Government to release some funds for the police to move into the area and carry out the operations.
He said the fighting between the Kumai subclans in Kup started three weeks ago following a dispute over land at Waghi River near Barawagi where a road contracting company had erected a crusher and had been extracting gravel and sand there for the Highlands Highway rehabilitation work.
The two clans are fighting over land ownership to claim payment for the gravel extracted.