Porgera massacre shocks PNG

James Marape

The district hospital in Porgera, Enga remains closed after a brutal massacre in Porgera town Tuesday afternoon in which 18 people were killed.

The massacre has rocked Enga province and shocked Papua New Guinea. Hospital workers fled the medical centre following the violence.

On Wednesday night, Prime Minister James Marape said Porgera is now under ‘emergency status’.

“We have called our additional manpower from both the military and police, not just for Porgera but for other areas that need special assistance as well. We will beef up security as election requirements have diluted normal police work and the present killing is related to an ongoing tribal fight.”

Of the 18 dead, 13 were men and 5 were women who were going about their normal lives when men armed with machetes and axes attacked them.

It was an hour of wanton destruction in which anyone in the path of the rampaging tribesmen was not spared, local police chief, acting Superintendent George Kakas said.

Porgera is the site of the giant gold mine which has been closed for almost two years.

A violent tribal fight between the Aiyala and Nomali tribes has been raging, which has severely affected the National General Elections in that part of the region.

The 18 deaths brings to 70 the number of people killed in Porgera in the past four months.

Although a State of Emergency was declared in Porgera, the fighting between Aiyala and Nomali continues, PPC Kakas said.

Security forces are present in Porgera Town.

Together with local police, there are about 150 police and army personnel, however they are outnumbered by the tribal warriors, who are heavily armed.

Following his arrival in Port Moresby, Barrick Gold president and chief executive officer Mark Bristow expressed disappointment over the current conflict in Porgera Valley and elsewhere in Enga. 

“What we are seeing taking place in Porgera is inhumane and uncalled for,” he said.