Head of violence-hit Papua New Guinea region calls for foreign help

Head of violence-hit Papua New Guinea region calls for foreign help
Head of violence-hit Papua New Guinea region calls for foreign help

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - After more than 50 people were killed in a clash in the country’s highlands, Enga Governor Peter Ipatas called for Australian police to help on the ground. — AFP picRoyal /Papua New Guinea Constabulary

PORT MORESBY, Feb 21 — The governor of a Papua New Guinea province wracked by spiralling tribal violence today called for help from foreign police forces, including from neighbouring Australia.

After more than 50 people were killed in a clash in the country’s highlands, Enga Governor Peter Ipatas called for Australian police to help on the ground.

“We are so close to Australia, our security is important to Australia,” he told parliament, calling for a deployment to Enga.

“They can give us the manpower and the number of manpower we want, to finally get the culture of policing right.”

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Papua New Guinea gained independence from Australia in 1975, but has remained highly dependent on Canberra for aid and support.

The understaffed Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary (RPNGC) has struggled to tackle myriad security challenges.

Tribal clashes, witch hunts, civil unrest, gang activity, corruption and violent crime are endemic.

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But the brutal killing of as many as 64 tribal fighters along a remote stretch of road in the nation’s highlands on Sunday has fuelled fears that violence is spiralling out of control.

Prime Minister James Marape has labelled the attack “domestic terrorism” and told angry voters: “We know that the number one threat facing us is lawlessness.”

Marape is already facing a vote of no confidence following deadly riots in major cities last month.

During a heated parliamentary debate Wednesday, several lawmakers backed calls to ask for a deployment by the Australian Federal Police.

“We are a proud and independent nation but we are also not too proud to ask our friends and neighbours for support, but under our command,” a draft parliamentary resolution read.

The text also called for help to be sought from Indonesia, New Zealand and other Pacific island nations.

An Australian Federal Police spokesperson said officers had been present in Papua New Guinea for many years, helping with training, advice and support.

“The AFP is closely monitoring the situation in PNG and remains in close contact with the RPNGC,” the spokesperson said. — AFP

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