Papua New Guinea: Tribal Violence Kills at Least 26

    Papua New Guinea: Tribal Violence Kills at Least 26
    Photo: Betsy Joles/Getty Images News via Getty Images (Dec. 6, 2019)

    The Facts

    • As many as 26 people were killed during an ambush in the Enga province in the northern highlands of Papua New Guinea on Sunday.

    • Authorities had initially announced that at least 64 people had died from the fighting, then corrected the figure, but the incident is still believed to be the worst massacre in the country's recent history. The deceased bodies were reportedly seen being loaded onto a truck.


    The Spin

    Narrative A

    As its highlands have long struggled with violence, internal security, more broadly, remains a key concern for PNG. However, the failure of the state to prevent the influx of illegal high-powered firearms and ammunition into the region has exacerbated the conflict and made clashes deadlier. The latest ambush has renewed attention to Prime Minister Marape's incompetence in providing grassroots solutions. If he can't prevent massacres of unprecedented intensity, Marape should step down.

    Narrative B

    Tribal violence isn't uncommon in PNG, however, police couldn't foresee it and had limited resources to deal with Sunday's massive ambush. In their quest for revenge killing and retribution, these tribes are breaking the law and creating instability. Marape's government is striving to curb the security issues and coordinating with community leaders to defuse tensions. Until the warring factions lay down their weapons, these long-held disputes will remain unresolved.


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