PNG's Enga tribal massacre a payback - police

3-4 minutes Police in Papua New Guinea's Enga province say the Porgera area is "under control" after a massacre that left nine people dead last week.
Papua New Guinea police
Papua New Guinea police Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades
A group from neighbouring Hela province were reportedly killed by tribal enemies from the same province in Enga's Porgera district.
Enga's police commander, Epenes Nili, said the killings were "payback" for a brutal massacre of 18 women and children last July in Hela.
"These two tribes from Hela province, they were looking for their own enemies in my province, which is another province. It's a payback killing that is taking place in Porgera.
"I've instructed my men to take control of the township. But the situation is... although it is tense, it is under control."
Nili said the public services, schools and the major gold mine at Porgera were back operating as normal.
However, police are still unable to confirm a reported killing of a group of worshippers in a remote part of Enga province.
Last week, PNG police headquarters in Port Moresby said unconfirmed reports indicated as many as five Seventh Day Adventists had been killed in Paiela.
The incident is understood to have occurred on 2 March, and was not related until last week's massacre of nine people in the same dictrict, Porgera.
 Nili said while details were scarce, the church group appeared to have been walking as part of a religious crusade.
"They walked through a jungle track, and that jungle track, that is where there was a battle or there was fighting in that area. And they may have gone through a battlefield or something.
"Maybe two of those Christians were killed. So that report is unconfirmed because that has not been reported to police."
The Engan police chief said the group that carried out the killing in Porgera had evidently escaped out of the province, and he was hopeful that hela police may be able to caputure them.
However, warlords and their tribal followers often out-number and out-gun PNG's poorly-resourced police forces in the Highlands.
"I'm not really impressed with this kind of fight that is taking place, like a guerilla type" Mr Nili said.
"So I really condemn this and I don't like the idea of people from another province going into another province and committing crimes."
Meanwhile, police reinforcements have been deployed to the Highlands region in the wake of several mass killings in recent weeks.
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March 15, 2020
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