Tuesday, June 22, 2010

40 injured in school fight

AT least 40 students sustained injuries and classes at the Fr Peter (Fatima) Secondary School in Banz, Western Highlands, have been suspended for an indefinite period after a fight broke out among the male students, The National reports.

The fight broke out around 6am yesterday between Western Highlands and Jiwaka students as they fought each other with stones and bush knives.

It was a continuation of a previous fight caused by the theft of a mobile phone on May 23, which forced a week-long suspension of classes.

That fight resulted in two Jiwaka students wounded and two female students from Western Highlands’ Dei district were reportedly raped.

In yesterday’s clash, many more students from both sides were wounded and sought medical treatment at the Mt Hagen General Hospital and Kudjip Nazarene Hospital.

Mt Hagen hospital staff at the accidents and emergency unit was busy all morning treating at least 30 students for minor injuries while a Grade 12 student had a more serious knife wound in the neck.

According to reports from the school, the fight started after the bell rang at 6am for students to attend morning devotion at the school chapel.

Police and locals intervened soon after and prevented it from getting out of hand.

Banz is in North Waghi, which will become part of the proposed Jiwaka province.

Mt Hagen students claimed they were chased by the local students and fled to the Sigiri area where they caught PMV buses and travelled home.

They said that some staff houses had also been damaged.

Buses on the Minj-Waghi routes stopped operation and many commuters were stranded in Mt Hagen because there were not enough PMVs.

Fr Peter principal refused to comment when contacted yesterday afternoon.

Provincial education adviser Hans Gima blamed the May 23 fight on the lack of staff supervision.

Provincial police commander Supt Kaiglo Ambane said yesterday police quickly mobilised to ensure that the violence did not spread to other schools in the province – Kitip Secondary, Togoba High and Holy Trinity Teachers College.

He said police escorted some Western Highlands students from Fr Peter back to Mt Hagen and Jiwaka students at Kitip, Togoba and Holy Trinity Teachers College back to Jiwaka.

Ambane was grateful for the cooperation police got from the locals and teachers in diffusing a volatile situation.

He urged the Fr Peter board of management, education authority and local communities to investigate and discipline students responsible for the fights.

Ambane said such ethnic differences were affecting the education of other innocent students from other provinces as well.



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