PNG's Tari in lockdown amid tribal tension

7:51 am on 5 April 2016
Tari, Hela province, Papua New Guinea.

Tari, Hela province, Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Reports emerging from Papua New Guinea's Highlands region indicate that Tari, the capital of Hela Province, was under siege last Friday due to tribal warfare.

The Post Courier reports that heavily armed tribal warriors tried to attack each other right in the heart of the town.

Hela provincial police commander Superintendent Michael Welly said yesterday that police are "frustrated and fed up" with ongoing rivalry between two warring clans of the peri-urban Kikita village.

He said the fighters wielded bush knives, guns and weapons without any regard for the rule of law and authority, mirroring recent unrest in the neighbouring town of Koroba which caused three deaths.

The Tari-based police mobile squad unit was deployed which quelled the stand-off for the time being but police say lingering tension has forced business houses, shops, government offices including the Bank South Pacific Tari branch and the Tari airport to close.

All flights to Tari have also been suspended as of yesterday.