Deadliest Ambush in Years Leaves 64 Dead in Papua New Guinea Highlands

Deadliest Ambush in Years Leaves 64 Dead in Papua New Guinea Highlands

A tragic ambush in Papua New Guinea's remote Highlands region has left at least 64 people dead in what authorities describe as the deadliest incident in years. The violence erupted during a tribal dispute in Enga province over the weekend, with victims being shot amidst escalating tensions. This area has long grappled with violence, exacerbated by the proliferation of illegal firearms, intensifying clashes, and fostering a cycle of bloodshed.

Authorities were confronted with a harrowing scene near Wabag, approximately 600km northwest of the capital, Port Moresby, where police began the grim task of collecting bodies. Acting Superintendent George Kakas of the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary expressed shock, describing it as the worst incident he has witnessed in Enga and possibly across the Highlands.

Tribal conflicts, often rooted in disputes over land and wealth distribution, have plagued the region. Last July, Enga province endured a three-month lockdown due to escalating tensions, and graphic footage circulated online in August depicting earlier violence.

Governor Peter Ipatas revealed that signs of impending conflict were evident, with up to 17 tribes involved in the recent escalation. He emphasized the responsibility of security forces in maintaining peace, noting efforts to alert authorities beforehand.

The broader security situation in Papua New Guinea has raised concerns, particularly following a state of emergency declaration last month after rioting and looting claimed at least 15 lives. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed deep concern over the recent killings, reaffirming Australia's commitment to supporting Papua New Guinea in security matters, including training police officers.

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