31 Jan 2007

PNG Police keep eye on Mt Hagen following violent clashes

4:07 pm on 31 January 2007

Papua New Guinea police say fighting has quieted down in Mt Hagen since last Friday's violent clashes in the Western highlands capital.

Clansmen armed with bush knives turned Pope John Paul Oval into a battlefield and clashed with police on the streets of Mt Hagen in violence that is believed to be connected to a long-running tribal feud.

The decades-old feud between the Ulga and Kulga tribes in the Nebilyer district flared again last year, costing dozens of lives in recent months and disrupting travel on the Highlands Highway.

A police spokesman, Dominic Kakas, says police in the area believe Friday's clash was a one-off incident.

"It's quiet up there now and we've got men there monitoring the situation. We suspect it involved those two tribes engaged in the Nebilyer fight but we have not yet got a full report to confirm this. But we are assessing the situation and have to assess whether it is necessary to actually ask that a state of emergency be imposed there."

Dominic Kakas