At least 53 killed in tribal fighting in Papua New Guinea, ABC reports


In August last year, images emerged of tribal groups dragging the bodies of slain foes behind pick-up trucks to send a message to rivals. Picture: Supplied via

SYDNEY, Feb 19: At least 26 people were killed in tribal fighting in the northern highlands of Papua New Guinea, Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) said on Monday, citing local police.

The men were killed in an ambush in Enga Province, according to the Australian state broadcaster.

A report by the local newspaper the Post-Courier said the violence took place on Sunday and was connected to a battle between two tribes.

Police initially reported that at least 53 people had died, before revising their number down to 26, the ABC said.

Reuters could not independently verify the death toll.

"These tribesmen have been killed all over the countryside, all over the bush," George Kakas, a senior officer in the country's police force, told the ABC.

"Police and defence forces have had to go in to do their best to quell the situation at their own risk."

The Pacific nation is home to hundreds of tribes, many of which still live in inhospitable and remote terrain.

The ABC said the latest violence involved the same tribes that were responsible for clashes that killed 60 in Enga Province last year.

"That is very disturbing the news that has come out of Papua New Guinea," Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said in a radio interview on Monday.

"We're providing considerable support, particularly for training police officers and for security in Papua New Guinea."

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