PNG official confirms more than 30 dead in tribal clash in Trobriands

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"Massacre on island of love" . . . how the Post-Courier today reported the tragic clashes on Kiriwina Island. Image: PNG Post-Courier screenshot

By Finau Fonua and Lydia Lewis, RNZ Pacific journalists

More than 30 people have been confirmed dead by Papua New Guinea government official Nelson Tauyuwada following tribal fighting on Kiriwina Island in the Trobriand archipelago.

Tauyuwada, the Kiriwina Island Area Manager, said the death toll would probably increase.

He believes a soccer game clash that took place last month sparked the fatal incident that happened yesterday.

“There are many layers to the rivalry between the two tribes involved, including political lines,” he said.

However, Kabwaku United Church Committee member David Mudagada said the fighting broke out from general election related issues.

“The fighting broke out from general election related problems. That triggered some other small issues, social issues that’s why they started the fight and it’s quite a mess right now,” Mudagada said.

“What I heard from those people around the scene is that they started fighting from the government station and then they moved the people towards their villages and they are slashing them with knives and all this — and then they retaliated,” he said.

Chaotic situation
He said the situation was chaotic.

“The government authorities are also at the scene right now they are trying to stabilise the situation…..then get the police from the Alotau, capital of Milne Bay province, and then they go to the small island in the Trobriand Islands.

“We are not sure when they are going to arrive, there were a couple of police officers there but they were outnumbered,” he said.

PNG’s constabulary is still trying to get officers to the scene and is expected to update the media as more details come to hand.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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