Wapenamanda massacre – 50 killed in PNG’s worst tribal fighting

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How the PNG Post-Courier reported the Wapenamanda massacre in Enga province today 20Feb24
How the PNG Post-Courier reported the Wapenamanda massacre in Enga province today - the death toll has risen since the newspaper's headline. Image: PNG Post-Courier

By Miriam Zarriga

Under the banana leaves on a roadside in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands lies the dismembered and bullet-riddled bodies of eight men.

All have been pulled out from the hillside along the highway from Wapenamanda to Wabag in Enga province.

They were among at least 50 people killed in the worst outbreak of tribal fighting in the country’s recent history.

Today's PNG Post-Courier front page 20Feb24
Today’s PNG Post-Courier front page – at least 50 armed tribesmen have been killed in a brutal gun battle in Enga. Image: PNG Post-Courier

These were not locals but hired guns from neighbouring districts and provinces who had been brought in to fight in a tribal fight.

Assistant Commissioner of Police-Western End Samson Kua has condemned the killings.

The call from security personnel is now for all leaders of Enga to put aside political differences and assist security personnel to promptly address the tribal fighting.

Information received is that security personnel were nearly shot as well as they tried to stop the fight.

The recovery of bodies continues.

A ghastly sight
In another report, the Post-Courier described it as a ghastly sight as a picture of bodies piled high on top each other on a police vehicle was shared on online platforms.

The bodies belonged to men who fought in a fight between two tribes in Wapenamanda.

The grassland of Wapenamanda was their battlefield as they fought with guns, knives, and other homemade weapons.

Police called for more support.

Police recovering bodies at the site of the Wapenamanda massacre
Police recovering bodies at the site of the Wapenamanda massacre in Enga province. Image: PNG Post-Courier

The dead bodies were of the Sikin and Kaekin tribesmen and were retrieved by policemen supported by the PNG Defence Force.

The men were killed yesterday at Akom/7 mile during heavy gun fire.

The situation is said to be still tense, but the highway was clear for the travelling public.

Police told the Post-Courier they had retrieved at least 50 bodies from the roadside, grasslands and hills of Wapenamanda by Monday morning.

Rival factions used “high-powered guns”, such as AK47 and M4 rifles in the battles, the newspaper reported.

The death toll was expected to rise.

Republished with permission from the PNG Post-Courier.

A grisly scene as PNG police recover bodies
A grisly scene as PNG police recover bodies at the site of the brutal gun battle. Image: PNG Post-Courier
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