6 Jul 2005

Deaths in tribal fighing in PNG highlights dangers of firearms

8:31 pm on 6 July 2005

The deaths of 15 people in a tribal fight near where a National Gun Summit is being held, has underlined the dangers of high powered-firearms in Papua New Guinea.

The deputy provincial governor of Eastern Highlands, Joksy Nakime, told the summit in Goroka that the killings began last Thursday in a conflict between the Ifo United and Fomu tribes near Kainantu.

High-powered rifles have been used in the feud, which re-erupted over a land dispute following a ceasefire between the two sides last September.

Mr Nakime told the Post-Courier newspaper that police at Goroka and Kainantu could not go into the conflict zone to stop the fighting because they lacked guns and fuel and only had run-down vehicles.

A missionary working in the area told the summit participants he knew of 15 people killed on both sides and that the fighting could spread if authorities did not intervene.

He says he had seen young men armed with various assault rifles and even hand-grenades.