5 Mar 2007

State of emergency declared in Vanuatu's capital after two deaths

11:09 am on 5 March 2007

Vanuatu's council of ministers has declared a state of emergency in the capital Port Vila following deadly tribal clashes in the weekend.

The conflict between people of Tanna and Ambrym islands at the Blacksands squatter settlement area on the fringe of the capital left two men dead, one from each side.

The Prime Minister Ham Lini and chiefs from the affected communities met yesterday, before the cabinet met to also discuss how to stop the tension.

Mr Lini says the two-week state of emergency will forbid public meetings in Vila, restrict movement between other islands and Efate, and also some movement between suburbs of the capital.

The fighting erupted over an allegation that a man from Ambrym had used black magic to hurt a Tannese at the settlement.

A young Tannese was killed in a cane knife attack, allegedly by a man from Ambrym.

In return, a young man from Ambrym who was visiting relatives in Port Vila was also stabbed to death.