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Port Moresby
January 19, 2021

Two Dead, Houses Burned In Fresh Clashes

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Two men are dead and several injured in clashes early this morning in Lae’s Backroad area. The fighting began last night between members of the Sepik, and Bougainville-Morobean communities.

This morning, more than 10 houses were set alight in retaliatory attacks, that lasted more than three hours. Police spent much of this morning trying to calm members of the Sepik community, who were armed with bush knives.


Police are yet to establish the cause of the violence. Unconfirmed reports indicate that the fighting could have started from a domestic argument.


This is the latest of several clashes between different ethnic groups that reside in the Backroad area. Lae’s settlements are major trouble spots. The clusters of ethnic groups, the availability of illegal alcohol, and drugs create a dangerous recipe for ongoing violence.


“I want to tell the settlers that what they’re seeing here isn’t good at all,” said Lae police commander who was there at the scene. “Houses have been burned and people killed because of their own actions.”


While there have been efforts by local communities to reduce the violence, police say the  manner in which new settlements are designed need to be reviewed to make policing easier.


Police will be maintaining a presence in the area until the situation calms down.

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