A brutal massacre in Porgera town Wednesday afternoon in which 18 innocent people were killed has rocked Enga province and shocked Papua New Guinea.
Even local police chief acting Superintendent George Kakas was shocked by the act of violence that he was left speechless when told by field operatives of the violence.
Last night, Prime Minister James Marape said Porgera is now under an emergency status.
“We have called our additional manpower from both the military and police, not just for Porgera but for other areas that need special assistance as well. We will beef up security as election requirements have diluted normal police work and the present killing is related to an ongoing tribal fight.”
In his policing career, Kakas has seen worse but Wednesday’s act was one he thought was the work of a deranged mob who had no respect for the sanctity of life.
Of the 18 dead, 13 were men and 5 were women who were going about their normal lives when men armed with machetes and axes hacked them to death.
It was an hour of wanton destruction in which anyone in the path of the rampaging tribesmen was not spared, Kakas said.
Pictures of the dead posted online show a trail of destruction with murderous intent. It seemed none of the dead had any chance of escaping.
In one picture, a woman clad in a PNG meri blouse lies next to a young girl, most probably her daughter.
In another, a man and his woman lie side by side, having fallen where they were attacked.
The woman is on her knees, cowering in a foetal position, most probably having begged for mercy, a futile attempt to evade the inevitable.
Men counting the cost, and examing the scene, looking for relatives, are shown carrying bush knives and axes.
In the restive Enga, this is normal weaponry.
Porgera is the site of the giant gold mine which has been closed for almost two years.
A violent tribal fight between the Aiyala and Nomali tribes has been raging, which has severely affected the National General Elections in that part of the region.
The 18 deaths brings to 70 the number of people killed in Porgera in the past four months.
Although a State of Emergency was declared in Porgera, the fighting between Aiyala and Nomali continues, PPC Kakas said.
Security forces are present in Porgera Town.
Together with local police, there are about 150 police and army personnel, however they are outnumbered by the tribal warriors, who are heavily armed.
“The 13 men and 5 women were killed in Paiam and Upper Porgera on Wednesday afternoon,” he said.
Of the 18, five people were killed in Upper Porgera Station and 13 people killed at Paiam.
“Out of the 18 deaths, 3 men from Porgera town area were killed by Kandeps.
This killing related to the ongoing tribal fight at Paiam has now escalated to Pogera Town.”
Police Commissioner David Manning last night said the PNGDF contribution of force elements for the task force are in the process of moving into Enga.
“There is no SOE declared, 120 soldiers from the 2nd PIR Bravo Company were sent in yesterday afternoon.
They are based in Wabag and once all logistics are in place, they will further deploy to the electorates of Porgera, Laiagam, and Kompiam and join their RPNGC MS counterparts who are currently on the ground.
Manning said the task force has 60 days to restore the rule of law in the electorates, secure the mine and provide protection for repairs to be done on wilfully damaged bridges –– especially on the Wabag Kompiam road.
“We received reports of continuous killings in Porgera that began over the weekend. Priority deployment is to the Porgera valley, to quell the fighting between the local Porgereans and settlers from other parts of Enga Province.
“We have received urgent pleas to also evacuate non-Engans who currently work up there to be escorted to safet.
“The 3-meter-wide, 4-5 meter deep trench that was dug across the Surinki stretch of Wabag-Porgera road is still undergoing repairs, however a temporary by pass has been constructed to allow traffic..
Meanwhile, following his arrival in Port Moresby, Barrick Gold president and chief executive officer Mark Bristow expressed disappointment over the current conflict in Porgera Valley and elsewhere in Enga.
“What we are seeing taking place in Porgera is inhumane and uncalled for,” he said.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS