Call for more police in PNG's Tari

5:20 am on 2 September 2016

Normal services are reportedly back up and running in Tari, the capital of Papua New Guinea's Hela province, following a spate of tribal fights in the area.

Tari, Hela province, Papua New Guinea.

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

Reports from Hela indicated at least three people had been killed from the fighting which broke out last week.

Earlier this week, shops, government offices and the Tari airport were temporarily closed and local officials urged the government to declare a state of emergency to allow a bigger police deployment to Tari.

A Tari tourism operator Steven Wari said the local police contingent was too small to handle unrest in a heavily populated tribal belt like Hela.

"The number of the policemen is only about two to three hundred police in tari town, and there are about thirty to forty thousand people, fifty thousand... half a million around the community, so the fighting is much bigger than the policemen. So police, it's very difficult for them to stop this fighting."

Steven Wari also said the tribal fighting has been a part of Hela custom for many years and as such is hard to eradicate.

He said however that the fighting did not target visitors to the region, and that tourists who came to Tari and Hela were safe and well treated.

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