At least 24 killed in Papua New Guinea tribal massacres

The victims in Hela province included two pregnant women and eight children. Highland clans have fought each other for centuries, but the recent influx of automatic weapons has made the clashes more deadly.

Heavily-armed Papua New Guinea police form a roadblock, preventing students from leaving the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby on June 8, 2016. (Reuters Archive)

(TRT WORLD) _ At least 24 people – including two pregnant women – were killed in tribal fighting in Papua New Guinea’s lawless highlands, prompting the prime minister on Wednesday to promise swift justice.

Local officials said at least 24 people had been killed in Hela province, a rugged region in the west of the country, in a three-day spasm of violence between rival tribes.

“Twenty-four people are confirmed dead, killed in three days, but could be more today,” Hela provincial administrator William Bando said on Wednesday.

“We are still waiting for today’s brief from our officials on the ground.”

Highland clans have fought each other in Papua New Guinea for centuries, but an influx of automatic weapons has made clashes more deadly and escalated the cycle of violence.

Highlanders say more and more outsiders are now involved in violent incidents – including roving mercenaries and arms dealers willing to work for cash, pigs or the kidnap of women.

Bando has called for at least 100 police to be deployed to reinforce some 40 local officers.

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