TWO people are dead, 13 others hospitalised and eight homes have been torched after a retaliatory attack in Bulolo, Morobe, on Saturday afternoon, The National reports.
Of all those hospitalised with pellet wounds, eight were in critical condition.
Confirming the incident, Morobe provincial police commander Peter Guinness said the deaths, injuries and destruction stemmed from a drunken brawl allegedly involving a man from Finschhafen living at the Madang block and another from Patep near Mumeng.
Guinness said the fight started late in the evening at Bulolo market after the two men had a heated argument.
He said a fight ensued in which the Patep man was beaten and suffered injuries.
He then mobilised his supporters and converged on Madang block where the Finschhafen people live and set alight eight houses, which were razed.
The settlers retaliated and shot at their attackers.
He said when that group started to burn the houses down, they were turned upon and shot at by the mixed group of settlers living at Madang block.
Fifteen casualties were reported; 13 were in critical condition at the Bulolo Hospital.
Of the two dead, one succumbed to pellet injuries and the second was chopped up.
Guinness confirmed that a police task force team from Lae had been dispatched to the area
to monitor the situation and prevent further unrests.
He said controlling guns in Bulolo was a real challenge because this was one area in the country where World War II ammunition for .303 rifles, 7.6mm and 40mm heavy artillery could be found in abundance.
"These are very dangerous for both the enemy and the attacker," Guinness said.
He also expressed concern that it was becoming difficult to tell if a gun was acquired lawfully or made at home.
Bulolo police were also having vehicle problems and could not maintain daily routine patrols.