Teacher trainees clash with villagers

The flow of traffic was disrupted this morning following fighting between villagers at Butibam and students at the Balob Teachers College.

A student has been admitted to the hospital while police held dialogue with both parties to contain the situation.

Traffic along the Butibam Road and Independence Drive was disrupted as students from the Balob Teachers College attacked Butibam youth with knives and stones.

Classes at the college and nearby Amba Demonstration Primary School were suspended following the incident.

Today’s confrontation was a spillover from an incident that started yesterday afternoon between an intoxicated Balob trainee and two women from Hengali – an area within the big village of Butibam.

Annie Kagowe was selling smoke and betelnut beside the road when an intoxicated individual, heading down from Awagasi, at Kamkumung, approached her “table market”.

Whilst buying betelnut, he started arguing with Kagowe’s small sister.

“Em argue wantem liklik sista na liklik sista tok, ‘Hey, inap na go’. Em swear na wokim kain kain lo mipla.”

On his way down, the intoxicated student allegedly smacked the side of a vehicle that was heading towards the Butibam main junction.

Youths from the area reportedly roughed him up and sent him on his way to the college.

At around 10pm, the student returned to Kagowe’s house with his peers, who were armed with bows and arrows and knives.

“Ol ronim mi go insait lo haus olgeta,” said Kagowe. “Brukim first door, second door na mi wantem ol pikinini singaut, singaut go nau, ol boys kam na ronim ol lo displa hap.”

Kagowe was home with her children while her husband was at work.

A student who was armed with a bow and arrow chased her into the house, where she fought back and broke off the arrow.

Upon hearing her screams, the village bell was rung while men and youth ran to her aid.

The group of students scattered in panic as villagers retaliated.

The one with the bow and arrow could not make it out in time. He was bashed up and is currently admitted at the hospital.

Situation is still tense while the road has been cleared up. Police are working with the college administration and village leaders to identify the students who broke into Kagowe’s house.

(Lae metropolitan superintendent, Chris Kunyanban, addressing Balob students and staff this morning)

Carmella Gware