FIGHTING in Bulolo township has escalated with more than 5,000 villagers taking part in the raid on
The local villagers are walking the length and breadth of Bulolo, armed with guns, knives and bows and arrows in open defiance of the 30-odd policemen.
The town has virtually stopped operating with all banks, schools, shops and markets closed except for the
Locals from Patep village and Mumeng local level government have been backed by their fellow Bulolo district locals from Buang, Watut, Waria and other parts of Morobe.
They razed five settlements yesterday to take to eight the number of settlements destroyed since Monday morning.
A policeman said there was not a house left standing after the group went on a rampage at the Karanas compound around noon yesterday.
The policeman alleged that the group comprised the Mumeng and Watut people.
“The Sepiks have fled for safety into the bushes and are afraid to emerge from their hiding places for fear of their lives,” he said.
He said police were outnumbered and could not stop the locals in their attack.
“The situation is extremely volatile,” employees of PNG Forest Products said last night.
They and other workers had not gone to work since Monday.
Yesterday, the Biwat, Tambunum, Kapriman, Aitape and Sangriwa settlements were also razed.
The situation had affected the operations of PNG Forest Products, Bank South Pacific, the post office, schools, health centre, the
All elementary, secondary and technical vocational centre classes had been suspended for an indefinite period, district education coordinator John Tjipert said.
Residents, not only in Bulolo but Wau as well, are now in short supply of food.
Traffic flow from Lae to Bulolo, Wau, the
Fourteen Australian tourists on their way to Bulolo, to walk the Black Cat Track, had to cancel their trip due to the ethnic violence.
This had caused PNG Tourism Promotion Authority chief Peter Vincent to call on the national government and cabinet to quickly address the worsening law and order situation, not only in Bulolo but throughout the country.
Morobe provincial government stepped in and allocated K52, 000 to deploy police reinforcement from Mt Hagen to join mobile squad 13 from Lae.
Speaking on Radio Morobe yesterday, Governor Luther Wenge urged all parties involved in the clashes to stop and seek a peaceful means to the conflict.
Wenge said the government had foreseen the need for additional police in the area and the police mobile squad 15 set up base there in 2001, but complacency on the part of police had set in.
The more than 2,000 settlers, who are now using PNG Forest Products camp site as a care centre, are in need of food supplies.
The settlers have lost everything except the clothes on their backs. They have sought police protection and are being kept at the PNG Forest Product compound as locals try to penetrate the area.
A police mobile squad member said there had been a lot of casualties; however, he could not confirm the number or say if there had been any further deaths.
By last night, two casualties were flown by helicopter to the