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Gunshots all around as election violence resumes in Wabag

The late Sano Peter MendaiDANIEL KUMBON

WABAG, Wednesday afternoon - Election violence has resumed here and gunshots are ringing out over the small township after a ceasefire imposed last week broke down yesterday and a death was reported this morning.

Wabag is experiencing its most violent time since Enga Province severed ties with the Western Highlands to assume its own political and administrative responsibilities in 1974.

Maters were made worse by the unrelated death of a young pilot Sano Peter Mendai (pictured), who was to graduate from a flying school in New Zealand this month.

Sano Mendai had come to Port Moresby to witness the graduation of his wife, Jane Kipok, from the University of Papua New Guinea’s.

They had planned to get married in Wabag then fly to New Zealand for Mr Mendai’s own graduation. But he died unexpectedly early this month.

His relatives from the Lankep tribe on the edge of Wabag town could not hold a proper funeral because of continued election violence.

Nor did they properly celebrate the election victory of their tribesman, Dr Lino Jeremiah Tom, who toppled PNC strongman Robert Ganim in the Wabag Open seat.

Jane Kipok's relatives from Kandep could not go to the funeral because of election violence between supporters of Alfred Manasseh and Don Polye who are from Kandep.

The other heart-wrenching tale in Wabag was the death in a fire of a Bangladeshi businessman.

3 of the surviving businessmenFour of his colleagues escaped to the police station with no possessions, not even their passports. They lost everything including much cash.

The men, three who are pictured here, had moved to Wabag from Manus this year and rented a new property to establish a store

Over 30 people have been killed in election-related violence including two mobile squad policeman and three babies in incubators.

Many more people have been injured, some seriously, including a policeman from the Mt Hagen based mobile squad. He is still in critical condition in a hospital in Port Moresby.

The fighting was officially stopped last Wednesday but resumed yesterday despite a court order.

A Kii man was reportedly killed yesterday and his people retaliated and killed a Kala man this morning.

As I type this early in the afternoon, I have heard over 20 gunshots which are continuing.

It seems the weak and innocent people will continue to suffer in this province.

I relate some very sad incidents in my new book ‘Survivor: Alive in Mum’s Loving Arms’, which was published as fighting continued here early this month.

The book features a young woman whose parents were both killed together with her brother when she was just nine months old. She was found alive in her mum’s loving arms.

Her parents had been ambushed in a revenge attack after two university students had been killed in an equally vicious attack in which had happened in Lae a year previously.

Nobody knows just how many people are dying and suffering in the rural areas in this province as this election related violence continues unabated.

These are very sad times indeed.


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Jordan Dean

Come on Enga. Can we resolve issues without fighting? And where are the Police? So many innocent lives lost.

Philip Fitzpatrick

Would it be safe for you to go talk to the Bangladeshi men and get their story Daniel.

I'm sure the Australian press would be interested in such a story.

I'd suggest sending it to the 'The Saturday Paper'. It would have to be a long form essay. The editor is Erik Jensen.

[email protected]

Have a look at their website.

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