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Ambush Kills 64 Lives in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands Region

February 19, 2024
Papua New Guinea

In a devastating incident, at least 64 people lost their lives in a brutal ambush during a tribal dispute in the remote Highlands region of Papua New Guinea, according to the BBC. The violence erupted in the Enga province over the weekend, marking one of the deadliest episodes in the area in recent memory.

The Highlands region has long grappled with persistent violence, but the scale of this tragedy has shocked the community. Illegal firearms flooding into the region have intensified clashes, contributing to a dangerous cycle of bloodshed.

A national police spokesman confirmed that victims were shot dead during the tribal dispute, and authorities are currently investigating the root causes of the conflict. The ambush occurred near the town of Wabag, approximately 600 kilometers northwest of the capital, Port Moresby.

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Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary Acting Superintendent George Kakas expressed his shock at the scale of the incident, stating, “This is by far the largest [killing] I’ve seen in Enga, maybe in all of Highlands as well. We’re all devastated, we’re all mentally stressed out. It’s really hard to comprehend.”

Disturbing videos and photos from the scene, depicting bodies being loaded onto a truck, have been received by the police, according to various media outlets.

The region has been grappling with escalating tribal conflicts, often centered around disputes over land and wealth distribution. Last July, the violence reached such heights that Enga province was placed under a three-month lockdown, during which police implemented a curfew and travel restrictions.

Governor Peter Ipatas informed the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) that warning signs of renewed violence were evident before the ambush. With up to 17 tribes involved in the recent escalation, Ipatas emphasized the crucial role of security forces in maintaining peace in the region.

The international community remains appalled by the ongoing violence in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands, urging authorities to address the root causes and take effective measures to prevent further loss of life in the region.

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