Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Trouble at home in Hagen

While we have been enjoying a relaxing holiday here in Cairns, life back in Hagen has been very stressful this week. Below is a article I took from one of the local papers. Please pray for peace in Hagen.

Schools located within Mt Hagen remained closed yesterday as parents kept their children at home as tension was still high despite heavy police presence and normalcy beginning to return.
All business houses in the city opened their doors for normal businesses yesterday after shutting their doors on Monday.
Highlands police divisional commander Simon Kauba said yesterday police reinforcements from Simbu arrived on Monday and were now patrolling and monitoring the city.
Mr Kauba said that two mobile squad sections from Port Moresby and Lae would arrive sometimes this week and boost the police manpower in the city.
He said that the fighting had stopped but tension was still high.
He said he was trying to bring the leaders of the two warring groups to the peace table.
Mr Kauba said that so far six people are confirmed dead as a result of the clash between the locals and the city settlers who are predominantly from Enga.
Some local residents are blaming the police for failing to manage the situation when the clash erupted last Sunday over a drunken brawl at a party in a local hotel.
However, Mr Kauba said that the killings had already taken place in the morning.
He said that when police arrived they were outnumbered by two of the biggest tribes in Mt Hagen – the Jikas and Moges.
Mr Kauba said police manpower were stretched to the limit because when they were controlling people and traffic on one side of the city, fighting was raging on the other.
Meanwhile, Lord Mayor Lucas Mek has described his city as a “cowboy town” because there is no law and order.
Mek told The National yesterday that his city needs 1,000 strong policemen to maintain law and order everyday.
Meanwhile, 40% of the work force in Mt Hagen General Hospital are not at work because of the clash.
Hospital authorities closed some of the their operations due to a depleted workforce, who stayed away from work because of fears of their safety and damages to their residences in the settlements.
Acting director of medical services Dr Guboro Urae told The National that the hospital authorities only allowed the emergency section to operate.
He said that the hospital was also running out of medical supplies like oxygen for patients because the oxygen supplier, BOC Gas had closed down due to the clash.
Police in Eastern Highlands, meanwhile, have been instructed be on alert to contain any spillover effects of the violent crisis in Mt Hagen.
Provincial Police Commander Supt Teddy Tei yesterdays issued instructions to his officers in both outstations and Goroka town to maintain close surveillance on residents and businesses in the province.
He also urged highway hatrols along the Highlands Highway to be alert for possible harassment and hold-ups of the travelling public, especially those affected in the ethnic violence.
He brushed aside unconfirmed reports that two Eastern Highlanders were injured in the ethnic clash in Mt Hagen last weekend.
“I warn people not to speculate and spread rumors likely to cause panic to disrupt peace and unity among the community.
“I do not want people to drag the problem to Eastern Highlands province," Supt Tei said.
He warned that police would come down hard on anyone found to be spreading rumours.
All the provincial police commanders from the Highlands region will be meeting in Mt Hagen today with Police Commissioner Gari Baki and Internal Security Minister Sani Rambi to discuss the situation in Mt Hagen city.


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