Settlers fight over land, two killed

An ethnic clash outside Lae city has resulted in two brutal killings and 26 burnt homes.

The fight stemmed from a land grabbing incident between two settlers at Five-Mile.

Lae Metropolitan Superintendent, Chris Kunyanban, said the Five-Mile ethnic clash started on Sunday when a Wabag man attempted to grab an area within a rice field that had already been claimed by a Goroka man.

Whilst arguing, the Wabag took his knife and slashed another Goroka man. The 31-year-old died instantly. 

“It is between the Wabags, Goroka and Sepiks and also some other provinces living along Five-Mile, also taking advantage to support the Gorokas to fight with the Wabags,” said Kunyanban. “The issue has caused a lot of damage already; people have been moving out from that location.”

On Tuesday, the 20th of April, another man, this time a 21-year-old from Goroka, was slashed in half while 13 houses on either side were burnt down.

On Wednesday, the 21st of April, leaders of the fighting groups were called in to sign a ceasefire agreement. During the gathering, the Metropolitan Superintendent stressed that the land they were fighting over belongs to the people of Labu.

“Fight started because someone tried to grab land that doesn’t belong to him or even the Goroka people,” he stated.

The ceasefire agreement, put together by the Royal PNG Constabulary’s legal team, will be used to restrain the leaders should there be another altercation.

“Should there be any fight, we will bring all the leaders in and they will go before the court and the court will determine what will happen to them.”

Carmella Gware