Young men injured during the attack by the Hetwara gang in Rai Coast's Nankina Valley. Pictured supply

PORT MORESBY (THE NATIONAL) — Eight people in Papua New Guinea were killed and about 10 Bambu Primary School girls were raped when the Hetwara Gang attacked nine villages in Rai Coast’s Nankina valley last week.

They also burnt down houses, community leader Kevin Sandip said.

“The gang has since grown in numbers, recruiting more young men.

“Last week Wednesday and Thursday, they attacked Gwarawon which is the village surrounding the Nankina airstrip and where SIL missionaries work and has a population of about 1,200.

“The gang has recruited reinforcements in exchange for girls and pigs in the village. Villagers are fleeing in many directions.

“Big villages like Gwarawon, Miok, Pivin, Yopbo, Tariknan, Mabit, Sevan and Dakuwe do not have many people living there.

“The gangsters also went to the school, robbed the head teacher and raped several students in their classrooms. They also attacked the Tapen Primary School. This has been happening and we need the Government to take our pleas seriously,” he added.

Sandip said last week’s attack brought the number of damaged Rai Coast villages by the gang to nine.

“No area in the Nankina valley has been spared,” he added.

Sandip appealed to the MP, provincial government and the Government to address the ongoing law and order issue urgently and bring an end to the reign of the gang.

“This gang has killed people, injuring many and raped our women and girls.

“They have burnt down our homes and destroyed our gardens. Yet that is not enough. They rob us, taking our money, our pigs, whatever that we have.

“What will it take for the Government to listen to the people’s cry for help and intervene? We have lost many lives already, lives of our young girls and women have been also been destroyed,” he said.

Meanwhile, more than 200 soldiers have moved into Southern Highlands’ Mendi where supporters of candidates in the provincial seat were locked in a four-day gunfight.

Millions of Kina worth of properties were destroyed last week.

Major Joshua Dorpar told The National that the soldiers were deployed to help restore peace and normalcy.

“Both sides have ceased fire and all businesses, public offices and schools were open again,” he said.

“The fight started at about 3.30am on Thursday with supporters of one of the candidates blocking off two sides of the road leading to the police station where the two containers of General Election 2022 ballot papers are stored.

“A platoon from the Alpha Company was on the ground waiting for new orders as the election returning officer had resigned and we were waiting for the Electoral Commissioner’s instruction when the fight broke out.

“Our teams tried to respond but encountered the two road blocks.

“There were vehicles set on fire that blocked the entrances to the police station.

“Our men were trying to clear the road block when supporters went in, took out the papers that had yet to be counted and burnt them.”

Dorpar said that additional manpower from Charlie Company was also sent to Mendi. “There have been no gunshots, starting this week,” he said.

“We have been doing foot patrols across the town, speaking to businessmen and government officers to assure them that that we are here to provide security and restore normalcy.

“Peace talks are being held and Mendi is slowly returning to normalcy.”

Meanwhile, the PNG Defence Force will also be sending in a medical team to provide support and assist medical officers at the Mendi General Hospital.

“Most of the hospital staff fled when fighting started, so we will help those who are still around until all return back to work,” Dorpar said…. PACNEWS

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