Violence leaves eight dead, hundreds homeless

Lae News, Normal

The National, Thursday November 21st, 2013


 A MAN was beheaded right in front of a reporter of this newspaper in Morobe’s Bulolo Town last weekend.

He became the latest casualty in a weekend of wanton violence and mayhem that gripped the mining township in a reign of terror.

An estimated 500 men, women and children are reported to have been made homeless, a good number of whom are victims of this spontaneous and unmitigated violence.

The spate of deadly clashes is said to be between the Warias of Bulolo and Watuts of neighbouring Menyamya district.

The first reported clash occurred on Sept 20 at Bulolo market, a public venue attended by a cosmopolitan populace.

The recent clash occurred last Wednesday, again at Bulolo market.

Both incidents were reported to have been incited by persons acting under the influence of alcohol.

As of last weekend, the situation had deteriorated to the point of guns being openly used by one faction and health, education, postal and commercial services reduced to a trickle. 

Before police arrived, one faction was reported to have staged a roadblock affecting traffic on the Bulolo highway, which is the supply line of the township.

Given the gravity of the situation, Morobe Governor Kelly Naru left the parliament session in Waigani and made an impromptu visit on Saturday.

Local MP and deputy opposition leader Sam Basil followed up with his own visit on Monday, reportedly to check on the situation of police mobile units on the ground. 

It is believed a gazette is now being drawn-up at the Tutumang in Lae that will effect a declaration of a State of Emergency which will facilitate the restoration of law and order.

But it is a case of a little too late for the eight reported casualties and the hundreds of homeless families, according to Jack Taupa, an aggrieved Waria man, a resident of Pinetop Ridge in Bulolo.

Taupa is disappointed with an earlier call by Basil for district and provincial authorities to repatriate unemployed residents of Bulolo back to their villages.

“It is a knee-jerk reaction to the ethnic violence that continues to cripple the mining township now and in the past five years,” Taupa said.

Taupa believes the ethnic violence is the climax of a long-term breakdown in law and order and social issues due to many factors, including an absence of political leadership in the electorate.

“Our leaders should be more constructive when handling sensitive issues and must introduce long-term solutions for all parties,” Taupa said.