PNG PM Marape describes killings in Enga as act of terrorism

Prime Minister James Marape

The killing in Enga is an act of domestic terrorism and the National Executive Council (NEC) will meet to decide on what will be done to address the situation, says Prime Minister James Marape.

Marape said at a press conference that all Papua New Guinean lives mattered and it was simply an act of domestic terrorism that could not be left unpunished.

This comes shortly after more than 50 dead bodies were found at Enga’s Wapenamanda on Sunday.

Marape said that he did not receive a full briefing and could not confirm how many bodies were recovered, but according to Police Mobile Squad and Papua New Guinea Defence Force personnel on the ground, a total of 50 bodies were recovered on Sunday afternoon at Akom and four bodies were later retrieved from the bushes, bringing the total up to 54.

“The dead bodies are believed to be men from Sikin and Kaekin tribes, some dead bodies are still in the bushes, and some are yet to be retrieved at Birip,” the security personnel said, adding that this was by far the biggest massacre they’ve seen since the tribal fight began last year.

Marape said that it was just unthinkable and inhuman for people to just take human lives like that, “this situation can only be described as an act of domestic terrorism”.

“We will be introducing a legislation to Parliament that will further strengthen the law enforcement capacity of security forces to intervene in acts of domestic terrorism, and that will also protect our police and defence personnels,”

“And with the increased number of illegal firearms, tougher measures are also required to bring in domestic terrorists, including firearms smugglers, and those who fund firearms and ammunitions to justice,” he said.

Marape said that NEC will also meet, once they get a full briefing on the situation to decide on whether a state of emergency should be declared in Enga.

Meanwhile, former army commander (retired Brig-General) Jerry Singirok has raised concern on the delayed Guns Control report.

The report was concluded in 2005, comprising 244 recommendations.

Singirok was the chairman of the Guns Control Committee.

The report is sitting in Parliament, gathering dust and awaiting its tabling.

In March 2005, then prime minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, commissioned and established the committee to investigate and recommend ways to remove illegal guns from the hands of citizens.

It took the committee five months to carry out nationwide consultations.

He told The National: “We came up with 244 recommendations and gave them to the government. To date, no government has taken this issue seriously.

“Guns are still being used everywhere,” Singirok said.

“The Guns Control report is still not being tabled; since 2005.

“We can talk about development but if we can’t make it safe, we don’t develop (as a nation).

“In the past 24 hours, families lost their fathers, brothers and cousins in Enga.

“As a nation, we walk away from the hard issues of armed violence that is slowly but systematically eating away at the very soul of our once peace-loving country. “The nation must call for leaders who can take this issue of illegal guns seriously like right now,” Singirok said.