Tribal Violence Leaves at Least 53 Dead in Papua New Guinea

( – Tribal tensions have exploded in Papua New Guinea, with the violence leaving more than 50 people dead.

According to local authorities, an armed group was already on its way to shoot up another tribe when it was ambushed by opposing forces, resulting in the deaths of 26 combatants and more than a dozen bystanders. The armed encounter was described as a “gunbattle between warring tribes” by Police Commissioner David Manning. The number of injured are still being determined as of press time, as authorities say that several people “ran into the bushes” during the clash, many of them sporting injuries.

The violence has erupted among tribes in the Papua New Guinea’s Enga province, a relatively remote area in the country’s highland region. Police have sent reinforcements to region in an attempt maintain a “significant force” in the area in order to implement some semblance of control over the situation.

The prime minister of Papua New Guinea, James Marape, said that there has been “great concern” over the escalation of violence between feuding tribes, as he called on the armed groups to lay down their weapons and look for a more peaceful resolution to their disputes, adding that further violence only exacerbates the situation that in turn leads to more problems.

Marape said that the attacks, which he called incidents of “domestic terrorism,” as well as tensions in the region will be the subject of a special session of the country’s national executive council. Also on the agenda will be the possibility of declaring a state of emergency in response to the situation.

Australia, which sends a large percentage of its foreign aid to Papua New Guinea, said that it is closely monitoring the situation and is ready to send aid if needed. Papua New Guinea is the single largest beneficiary of aid from Australia, which is its closest neighboring country.

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