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Deadly Clashes Between Tribes Result in Dozens of Casualties in Papua New Guinea


Dozens Killed in Papua New Guinea After Clashes Between Tribes

At least 53 people have been killed in violent clashes in the remote highlands of Papua New Guinea, where deadly violence between more than a dozen tribal groups has been escalating. The situation has become increasingly concerning, with a senior security official reporting that the death toll is likely to rise.

George Kakas, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary acting superintendent, revealed to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the incident, which took place in Enga Province, had resulted in a significant number of casualties. However, it was unclear from his remarks when the killings had taken place, and the police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“These tribesmen have been killed all over the countryside, all over the bush,” Mr. Kakas told the broadcaster. “Police and defense forces have had to go in to do their best to quell the situation at their own risk.”

The grim aftermath of the violence was evident as bodies were found across a field, along roads, and near a river, according to Mr. Kakas. Furthermore, video footage and photos shared on social media portrayed dozens of bodies piled onto the back of an open truck. However, it is important to note that the authenticity of these visuals could not be immediately confirmed.

The police have indicated that as many as 17 different tribes were involved in the clashes, highlighting the complexity and severity of the situation. Papua New Guinea, with a population of approximately 10 million people, is a largely rural country where agriculture is a key industry. The cultural diversity is immense, with more than 300 tribes spread across the nation and neighboring Indonesian regions of Papua and West Papua.

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The remote Enga Province has long been plagued by tribal violence, but the recent escalation can be attributed to political issues and tensions over resource management. The frequency and intensity of the clashes have risen, prompting the authorities to impose a three-month lockdown on the province last year in an attempt to contain the unrest.

The use of high-powered firearms in tribal conflicts has contributed to the escalating death toll. In 2023 alone, at least 150 people were killed in clashes, signaling a worrying upward trend in violence. The transition from traditional bows and arrows to modern weapons has undoubtedly exacerbated the situation, making it increasingly difficult to prevent further bloodshed.

Peter Ipatas, the governor of Enga, has made a plea for Australia to assist security forces in Papua New Guinea in a bid to contain the violence. Acknowledging the limited capacity of local authorities to address the crisis, he emphasized the urgent need for external support in handling the escalating conflict.

The recent surge in violent clashes between tribes in Papua New Guinea is a distressing development, underscoring the need for immediate intervention to prevent further loss of life. The ongoing tensions and the use of modern weaponry have drastically altered the nature of tribal conflict, posing a significant challenge to the authorities. As the death toll continues to climb, it is imperative for both local and international entities to work together to bring an end to the bloodshed and ensure the safety and security of the communities affected by the violence.

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Chats and reflections on the present moment.

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Lydia Polgreen

Credit…Will Heath/NBC, via Getty Images

It is a rare thing in our rapidly secularizing country to be confronted with piety and devotion in popular culture. So it was a surprise, and a balm, to watch a man who prays daily and talks openly about his devout faith storm a bastion of earthly godlessness: “Saturday Night Live.”

I am referring, of course, to the comedian Ramy Youssef, who hosted the show on what he described in his opening monologue as “an incredibly spiritual weekend,” noting Ramadan, Easter and the arrival of a new Beyoncé album.

“I’m doing the Ramadan one,” he quipped, to peals of laughter, unspooling a very funny bit about how loving Muslims are. Youssef has mined his experience as a believer among the profane in gentle standup specials and a namesake sitcom. His entire monologue glowed with a welcoming warmth — Muslims, he seemed to say: We’re just like you.

In a country that is supposedly obsessed with diversity and inclusion, it is remarkable how rare it is to hear from a practicing Muslim in America.

Surveys by the Institute for Policy and Understanding, a nonpartisan research organization focused on Muslim Americans, have consistently found that Muslims are the most likely group to report religious discrimination in the United States. According to a Pew survey conducted in 2021, 78 percent of Americans said that there was either a lot or some discrimination against Muslims in our society. Muslims are no more likely to commit crimes than members of any other group, but crimes in which Muslims are suspects get outsized media coverage, research has shown.

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It is no surprise, then, that Islamophobia is perhaps the most tolerated form of religious prejudice. Right now, Senate Republicans appear to have persuaded several Senate Democrats to vote against a Muslim judicial nominee after smearing him, with no evidence at all, as an antisemite.

Many of the skits that toyed with religion on “S.N.L.” on Saturday were funny — Ozempic for Ramadan! Genius. But part of me winced through them as well, because I saw in Youssef something that other members of minority groups have had to do to “earn” their place in the safety of the mainstream: the performance of normalcy, of being nonthreatening and sweet, the requirement to prove that your community belongs in America just like everyone else’s.

I loved Youssef’s monologue, in which he bravely pleaded, “Please, free the people of Palestine. And please, free the hostages. All of the hostages.”

“I am out of ideas,” Youssef declared toward the end of his monologue. “All I have is prayers.”

To which this nonbeliever can only say: Same, Ramy. Same.

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