Madang Provincial Police Commander Jacob Singura told Loop PNG that the conflict had started due to an incident that occurred two weeks ago when a 25-seater was supposedly held up by Sepiks youths along the Nagada/ RD Tuna road. This resulted in a Western Highlander man being badly beaten up and rushed to the Modilon General Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.
A week later, the relatives of the deceased retaliated against some Sepiks in Western Highlands and word spread throughout Madang later, which resulted in the clash between the Sepiks and Western Highlanders in Madang Town yesterday.
PPC Singura says the Sepiks had roadblocks put up along the 17A route, looking out for any buses owned by Western Highlanders to avenge their relatives residing in Western Highlands.
He says due to the lack of manpower, two buses and a 10-seater was burnt down and more than 20 houses of Western Highlands residents were set on fire yesterday.
He adds that his request for extra manpower was approved, of which Lae Metropolitan Superintendent Anthony Wagambie Jnr deployed 50 policemen. They arrived at 7am today to help Madang police eradicate and disperse any crowd or any small group converging in Madang town.
The Lae police will be in the province for the next 30 days to monitor the situation until everything returns to normal. Police have been given orders to remove unnecessary roadblocks, especially along NCR, Independence road towards the airport as well as the main town area.
He says they will not tolerate anyone trying to take advantage of the situation therefore those caught carrying knives, axes or any sort of weapon or firearm will be apprehended and charged.
Singura commended the efforts of the Madang Provincial Government and the Madang District Development Authority for their support in having brought the Lae police to Madang to help out in manpower and to monitor the situation.
Although there is tension in the air, police are still closely monitoring the situation.
Picture Source: Mel Tatuts’ Facebook page