24 Nov 2014

PNG mobile police act over tribal fighting

8:21 pm on 24 November 2014

21 people have been arrested on the first day of an operation in Papua New Guinea's Hela Province to try and stop tribal fighting that has plagued the area.

A combined force of police mobile squads, and a platoon from the PNG Defence Force conducted their first raids this morning.

Hela province, Papua New Guinea.

Hela province, Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

However, the Hela Provincial Police Commander, Mike Yangen, says it is proving to be a difficult operation, with an entire village fleeing from the police.

"This morning was our first dawn raid into one of the villages involving the tribal fights, and you'll be surprised to know there was nobody in the village, everybody had disappeared. I sent the troops across, but as the troops went in the valley at 4am everybody in the village had gone."

Mark Yangen says the brief operation will only go so far, and it's time for provincial leaders to sort out the underlying issues behind the fighting.