27 Apr 2005

Police in PNG Highlands get ready for raid on tribal warriors

4:17 pm on 27 April 2005

Police in Chimbu Province in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea are getting ready to mount a raid on a group of tribal fighters, after a deadly skirmish.

About 2,000 people were involved in clashes between villages in the Digine local government area, which left one person dead and forced thousands of people to flee.

The provincial police commander, Jim Onopia, says his officers are enforcing night curfews in three areas including the regional capital, Kundiawa.

Mr Onopia says security forces are also preparing to move against the fighters, who are using high-powered guns alongside traditional bows and arrows.

"With the warriors up on the mountaintops, we're just waiting for them to come back, for the situation to calm down, while we have our men in the area, as soon as the situation quietens down, we'll be conducting a full-scale raid."

Mr Onopia says properties worth more than a third of a million US dollars have been burnt down.

He said the tribal fights were related to disagreements remaining from the 2002 national elections in the area.