1 Feb 2007

PNG Opposition leader calls for more police attention to Western Highlands

10:01 am on 1 February 2007

Papua New Guinea's Opposition leader says the government is neglecting the problem of escalating tribal warfare in Western Highlands province.

Peter O'Neill is calling for an urgent solution to tribal clash in the province, following Friday's violent clashes in the provincial capital.

Clansmen armed with bush knives turned Pope John Paul Oval into a battlefield and clashed with police on the streets of Mt Hagen in violence that is linked to an ongoing tribal feud based in the Nebilyer district.

Mr O'Neill says the deployment of 20 extra police officers to the Nebilyer district in December is not enough to resolve this issue:

"We have a state of emergency in Southern Highlands - I think there's more than five hundred policemen in the area. And the police need to extend some of that personnel into the area, to the Nebilyer in Western Highlands province so that they can resolve this issue once and for all."

Peter O'Neill says the Prime Minister must make addressing the problem a matter of priority for his Police Minister and Commissioner.