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24 die in Papua New Guinea massacres

July 11, 2019 00:00:00

PORT MORESBY, July 10 (AFP): Twenty-four people have died - including two pregnant women with their unborn children - 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.

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.

"Twenty-four people are confirmed dead, killed in three days, but could be more today," Hela provincial administrator William Bando told AFP on Wednesday. "We are still waiting for today's brief from our officials on the ground."

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

The incident has shocked both the country and recently appointed Prime Minister James Marape, whose constituency includes the district where the killings occurred.

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