Papua New Guinea, 64 dead in new tribal violence

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Papua New Guinea, 64 dead in new tribal violence
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The head of Papua New Guinea's police force said today that additional personnel deployed in the Highlands region where 64 people were killed in tribal violence yesterday will be allowed to use “any level of force”. Commissioner David Manning said “targeted operations” were underway to restore “law and order: these personnel have clear instructions to use any level of force necessary to prevent further violence and retaliation,” he said. Manning.

Tribal violence in Papua New Guinea has caused at least 64 deaths, local police say. The massacre reportedly occurred following an ambush in Enga province, in the remote Highlands region of the South Pacific island nation. The massacre signals a serious escalation in ongoing tribal violence in the area.

The latest violence occurred near the town of Wabag, 600 kilometers northwest of the capital Port Moresby. The incident is thought to be linked to a conflict between members of the Sikin and Kaekin tribes. Police have received videos and photos that appear to be from the scene: they show stripped and bloodied bodies lying on the side of the road and piled on the back of a flatbed truck. Clans from the Highlands region have fought each other for centuries in Papua New Guinea, but the influx of automatic weapons has made the clashes even deadlier and intensified the cycle of violence.

The government has attempted repression, mediation, amnesties and a variety of other strategies to control the violence but with limited success. The army has deployed around 100 soldiers to the area, but their impact has been limited and security services remain outnumbered and outgunned. The killings often occur in remote communities, with clan members launching raids or ambushes to avenge previous attacks. Civilians, including pregnant women and children, have been targeted in the past. The murders are often extremely violent, with victims hacked to death, burned, mutilated or tortured. Police complain they lack the resources to do the job, with officers so poorly paid that some of the weapons that end up in the hands of tribal members come from the police force. Opponents of Prime Minister James Marape's government on Monday called for the deployment of more police and the resignation of the force's commissioner. Papua New Guinea's population has more than doubled since 1980, straining land and resources and deepening tribal rivalries.

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