Slaughter goes on in Porgera mining town as PNG police plan new task force

The body of the latest victim of the Porgera killings
The body of the latest victim of the Porgera killings laid out on a board atop fuel drums. Image: PNG Post-Courier

By Miriam Zarriga in Port Moresby

While Papua New Guinean policing continues to be an issue in Porgera, Enga Province, the killings continue in the mining township.

And the latest killing of a village court magistrate has added to the 70 deaths within a period of six months.

Police Commissioner David Manning has recently announced the establishment of a specific unit to “have the sole task and responsibility of securing our major resource projects around the country”.

“We will be taking steps to establish the unit by this week,” he said.

In the latest killing, a village court magistrate from the Lukal area who had been actively involved in facilitating peace efforts for the ongoing tribal disputes was killed on September 17 while he was out in the garden gathering food with his wife and a female in-law.

Unconfirmed reports state that the two women had been taken hostage and were yet to be located.

Nine days earlier, the now deceased Lopan Wake had led the Paiam community in a staged protest calling on the government to declare a state of emergency after a man from the same Lukal village was killed.

Haus krai blocked highway
Frustrated family members, relatives and the Paiam community expressed their frustrations by blocking the highway and staged a haus krai for the deceased on the open road.

They urged the government and relevant authorities to intervene and put an end to the spillover of killings of innocent people in the valley.

Immediate family and relatives of the late magistrate Wake said they want the law and government to deal with the matter.

Family spokesperson Kelly Yambi said there have been many spillover conflicts in Porgera that there was confusion over how to establish what tribal groups were responsible for the Lukal killings.

“I am not sure who is really responsible for the initial tribal conflicts but all I know is that the spillover of the conflict is affecting my people and we are falling victims.

“We signed a covenant with God and we do not want to take revenge.

“We have buried two men already and now I will bury my brother,” Yambi said.

Change to ‘how we do things’
Commissioner Manning said: “As part of our restructure we now see that we need to restructure how we do things and how the police force and other agency partners secure major resource areas.

“While the bulk of our resources are taken up in securing the projects its often for the detriment of the livelihoods of the communities that have been subjected to violent criminal activities.

“So by setting up this new unit, it will elevate demands on the resources so that we not only adequately secure projects but continue to progress our efforts in securing our community.”

“As soon as we establish the unit, our focus will be on reopening Porgera.

“Without a safe and secure environment to do so the reopening of Porgera can be challenging.

“And we are up to the task of providing the necessary support in securing not only the project but the surrounding communities before the project recommences.”

Miriam Zarriga is a PNG Post-Courier reporter. Republished with permission.

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