Killings reported following clash over principal’s appointment

Five schools and a health centre in the Obura-Wonenara district in Eastern Highlands Province have been closed after the death of five people, including students.

The conflict reportedly stemmed from the appointment of a school principal, which did not go down well with some members of the community.

Other government services were also shut down until community leaders agreed to restore peace and normalcy while police continue to do regular visits.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Peter Guinness, said: “I am really concerned for the lives of those who were attacked and the destruction of government institution and the closure of other schools within the Tairora area. This is outrageous, barbaric and unbecoming of people who don't have sheer respect for others and state properties.

“This type of behaviour really reflects the type of the society that we live in where we don’t have respect for others and what is within our surroundings. The community leaders now must find means and ways to solve this problem before police conduct its investigation.”

He said the appointment of school principals are done by the Provincial Education Board (PEB) and if a faction is not happy with the appointment, there are processes and procedures to address their issues.

Guinness, who is also the Divisional Commander, said according to police reports received from Police in EHP, two villages clashed after the appointment of the Tairora High School principal.

Norikori villagers were not happy with the appointment while Noreanda affirmed the appointment.

A fight ensued which resulted in the death of two students and a Salvation Army Pastor. A Grade 11 student from Kainantu Secondary and a Grade Nine student from Tairora were killed, including the pastor who tried to stop the fight.

Days later, while peace mediation was arranged, another two deaths were reported and opportunists looted the school while police escorted staff out from the school area.

Guinness said four other primary schools – feeder schools of the high school – were also shut down. The only mission (EBC) run health centre was also closed.

“I appeal to the community leaders to restore peace and normalcy back into the community and help rebuild the high school and allow the primary schools to resume classes and the communities to have access to the only health facility there.”

(Peace meeting at Tairora on Friday; Picture: Police Media Northern)

Press release