4 Jul 2005

Tribal fighters in PNG's Southern Highlands have hundreds of high powered guns - report

4:10 pm on 4 July 2005

A report into the gun problem in the Papua New Guinea province of Southern Highlands shows a high number of privately held firearms.

The author of the small arms survey report, associate professor Phillip Alpers, from the University of Sydney, says there are nearly 2,450 privately held firearms in the province, of which close to half are high-powered assault weapons.

Mr Alpers says despite the high number, there's almost no international gun trade in PNG because the guns are sourced from the military and the police.

He says the high number of guns has had a devastating effect on the community.

"Hundreds and hundreds of people have been killed. We have no idea how many because 90 percent of deaths in the Southern Highlands are simply not reported to any authority. However we know that recently in Chimbu Province, 20-thousand people were displaced just a few weeks ago. You barely hear about this."

Phillip Alpers also says the high number of guns cripples the attempts of the provincial government to instil law and order.