Dozens killed in Papua New Guinea Highlands region News
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Dozens killed in Papua New Guinea Highlands region

Papua New Guinea’s National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) reported Monday that at least 49 people have been killed in a massacre in Papua New Guinea’s remote Highlands region. Reports have said that it is “very likely to be one of the deadliest massacres in the highlands in recent history.”

The massacre happened in the remote village of Wapenamanda, Enga Province, located in the northern region of Papua New Guinea, and is allegedly due to the ongoing tribal disputes in the region. The majority of the deceased were members of the Sikin and Kaikin tribes. According to Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary Acting Superintendent George Kakas, the massacre came as one tribe was on their way to attack another tribe and was ambushed. He went on to say that “these tribesmen have been killed all over the countryside, all over the bush.” Footage has shown groups of villagers carrying a body to a waiting ambulance, and Australian media report that images came through showing the bodies of men on the back of a police lorry. The victims all appear to have been shot.

Papua New Guinea is a resource-rich country, with over 800 indigenous languages and a long history of tribal warfare. This warfare has increased in recent years, and Enga province is known as a region abundant in natural gold resources. This has created disputes over the ownership of land and compensation. Last year, over 60 people were killed in the fighting in the area. Just over a month ago, at least 15 people died during major riots in the country’s capital of Port Moresby, causing the Prime Minister to declare a state of emergency.

The US and China are keen to build ties with the island nation. US-ally Australia has recently signed a bilateral security agreement with Papua New Guinea, stating it “will elevate our security relationship to advance shared security interests while contributing to our region’s security.” Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, said Monday that they were “providing considerable support, particularly for training police officers and for security in Papua New Guinea.”