Three die in ethnic fights

National, Normal

The National – Tuesday, December 28, 2010

PORT Moresby police reported three deaths in ethnic clashes in what otherwise was a trouble-free long weekend festive season for the city residents.
They also reported a double murder and a drowning in Central which Central provincial police commander John Maru could not be reached to confirm.
NCD metropolitan commander Supt Joseph Tondop said yesterday the three deaths happened at two settlements in the city.
He said while Christmas celebrations went smoothly for most, the police had to attend to ethnic clashes between groups from Highlands region living at the outskirts of Moresby Northeast and two settlements in Gerehu in Moresby Northwest.
Tondop also reported an ethnic clash between groups from Gumine, Chimbu, and Pangia, Southern Highlands, at the 9-Mile area near the wildlife sanctuary at Moitake.
He said there were extensive damages to properties on both sides arising from the dispute but he did not a full report on particulars.
At Gerehu, there was a fight between Western Highlanders and a group from Central’s Goilala district living at Tete settlement behind Gerehu Stage 6.
Tondop said the fight started after the Western Highlanders blamed the Goilala people for damaging their taxi. They had ganged up and damaged homes and properties belonging to the Goilala settlers in Tete.
He said six suspects, including the taxi owner, had been identified as suspects of the damaged properties and are being questioned by police.
The second, more deadly fight was between a group from Okapa, Eastern Highlands, and Ialibu, Southern Highlands, at Keusu settlement behind Gerehu Stage 2. It stemmed from a domestic argument between a married couple.
Tondop said it led to the killing of a man from Okapa during Christmas Day.
“The group of Okapa then mobilised and attacked the two men from Ialibu and this resulted in the death of one of them,” he said, adding that police had moved in quickly to monitor the situation at the settlement and to stop further violence from erupting between disputing groups.
“We also received reports of dead body found at Gerehu over the weekend are not ruling out the fact that the killing may be related to the ethnic clash in the area.
“Police are monitoring the situation and are conducting investigations into the deaths as well as other incidents which occurred in the city.”
Tondop also reported the rape of 17-year-old teenage girl at Horse Camp settlement, along the road to Pari village, in Moresby South electorate.
He said there were also investigating a double murder on Christmas Day at Brown River in Central, adding that the deaths were alcohol related but did not give further details.
“We also received reports of the drowning of an Enga man at the Kuriva picnic area but do not have details on that.”