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’64 killed’ in ‘largest’ tribal conflict in Papua New Guinea

’64 killed’ in ‘largest’ tribal conflict in Papua New Guinea
February 19
11:58 2024

At least 64 bodies have been recovered from a tribal dispute in Papua New Guinea’s remote Highlands region.

According to the Post-Courier newspaper, the fighting is between the Ambulin and Sikin tribes, alongside their allies.

Samson Kua, assistant commissioner of police, Western End, said the fighting began at 4 am on Sunday.

Photos shared by local media showed bodies piled on each other lying by the roadside. Some of the corpses were covered with banana leaves.

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According to the newspaper, rival factions used high-powered guns such as SLR, AK47, M4 rifles, AR15, M16, pump action, single shots. Homemade weapons and knives were also used during the battle.

The conflicting death toll is expected to rise.

The Post-Courier had said 57 bodies were recovered, citing police, but the figures have been revised to 50. Al Jazeera put the death toll at 64.

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“This is by far the largest [killing] I’ve seen in Enga, maybe in all of Highlands as well,” George Kakas, a senior officer in the country’s police force, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“We’re all devastated, we’re all mentally stressed out. It’s really hard to comprehend,” Kakas added.

Escalating tribal conflict — often over the distribution of land and wealth — led to a three-month lockdown in Enga last July, during which police imposed a curfew and travel restrictions.

In August last year, the violence made international headlines after graphic footage involving three dead men, circulated online.

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