There is concern that the tribal conflict in Papua New Guinea could escalate into further violence, following a recent massacre.

There is concern that the tribal conflict in Papua New Guinea could escalate into further violence, following a recent massacre.

The government of Papua New Guinea is preparing for an increase in violent incidents following the deaths of several men in a tribal attack on Sunday.

Following the violent deaths, there are demands for the prime minister, James Marape, to declare a state of emergency in order to address the ongoing conflicts.

A total of 54 individuals lost their lives in a surprise attack between tribes in the distant village of Akom in Enga province on Sunday, according to reports from the police mobile squad and Papua New Guinea defence force. The authorities have updated the death toll multiple times in the following days.

Local residents and law enforcement personnel retrieved the bodies, and disturbing photos circulated depicting a stack of dead bodies on a truck. Police and security authorities in Enga reported that this event is the most severe mass killing in recent months.

On Tuesday, security officials in Enga reported that there are still deceased individuals remaining in the bushes and some have not yet been recovered.

Marape stated that the incident was an act of “domestic terrorism”. He also mentioned that the national executive council will convene this week to discuss potential actions to handle the situation. This may involve declaring a state of emergency for the affected region.

He stated that Papua New Guinea plans to ask Australia for assistance in supporting their police force. This support will involve administrative guidance and leadership, while local police will be on the front lines with the help of soldiers.

Marape announced plans to implement a new law that will improve the ability of security forces to address domestic terrorism. This legislation will also work to safeguard police and military personnel.

The police commissioner, David Manning, stated that security forces have initiated “targeted operations” in Enga in order to reestablish law and order. He also mentioned that security personnel have been instructed to utilize any necessary force to prevent additional acts of violence and retaliation, which may include the use of lethal force.

According to a statement from Manning, stricter measures are necessary to address the rise in illegal firearms and bring domestic terrorists, firearms smugglers, and those who finance firearms and ammunition to justice.

Although tribal conflicts are common in certain areas of Papua New Guinea, the level of violence has significantly increased in Enga over the past year. Miki Kaeok, a parliament member representing Enga, is urging the national government to declare a state of emergency in the province.

Kaeok expressed worry over the escalating level of tribal conflict in his district, which is now having an impact on surrounding areas. He noted that tribal violence has evolved into a more strategic form of warfare, resembling guerrilla tactics, as a result of the availability of weapons. Parties from other parts of the province are also taking part in these conflicts.

Kaeok stated that the ongoing conflict between tribes in my district has extended to the neighbouring Wabag district, with armed individuals from various parts of the province involved. It is imperative that we put an end to this.

According to Kaeok, individuals from outside the province have been recruited as hired gunmen to participate in the conflict. He also claims that this violence is being encouraged by influential figures and educated members of the warring groups. Kaeok is urging the police commissioner to look into the individuals responsible for providing weapons and ammunition.

“He expressed concern over the loss of hundreds of lives and the destruction of properties worth millions of kina. He urgently called for an end to these actions.”

Rebecca Kuku works as a journalist for the National newspaper, located in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.