Military taskforce deployed to PNG's Hela in wake of massacre

The spectre of tribal fighting is a constant in Papua New Guinea's Hela province where villages are typically protected by trenches and tightly guarded gates. - Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

A joint military and police taskforce will be deployed to Papua New Guinea's Hela Province in response to mass killings last week.

Prime Minister James Marape told the Post Courier he has sent the police minister, Bryan Kramer, there to take stock of available manpower on the ground and to assess urgent issues.

The United Nations in PNG has strongly condemned the massacre of 24 people, most of them women and children, and called for immediate intervention to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Mr Marape says a mobile squad will be relocated to the provincial capital, Tari.

A military deployment that was sent there after a massive earthquake last year will be extended, he added.

The UN resident coordinator, David McLoughlin, said the senseless killing of people who have a fundamental right to be safe from violence is unacceptable under any circumstance.

Earlier this week, Mr Marape wrote in a statement on Facebook that he would be using the "strongest measures in law" to hunt down the perpetrators of the attack.

Hela province has been beset by tribal violence which has intensified in recent years, with the arrival of the LNG project and the aftermath of last year's earthquake.

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