At Least 53 Killed in Papua New Guinea

( – Tribal violence recently led to dozens of deaths in the Indo-Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Officials believe the conflict killed at least 53 people, but that number is still a rough estimate. Clashes in the region have been growing since the country’s 2022 election, which allegedly suffered from numerous issues.

ABC News shares that officials recently revised the death toll to 26, but the leader of the ambushed villagers, John Luther, believes he lost 44 people. They were on their way to attack rivals over the death of a woman who lived in a neighboring village, according to the tribal leader, but their enemies ambushed them from a local school building. He said this latest attack would likely end the cycle of violence because he has lost too many people to continue fighting.

The United States Institute of Peace explains that confidence in the country’s electoral system was low even before the explosive last election. PNG’s alliances in parliament are generally weak and money-based and voters typically prioritize local issues over national ones, so there are no cohesive parties working together for the greater good of their country. The piecemeal approach has left the larger system neglected, with some polling systems allegedly seeing less protection from fraudulent activities due to local corruption.

Leaders accused some tribes of distributing pre-marked ballots in 2007, for example, and they observed intimidation tactics — particularly against women voters — at the polls in 2017. These issues seemed to come to a head in 2022, with distrust over polling integrity and poor security both contributing to the violence. Sky News Australia adds that immediate fighting over the elections led to over 150 deaths in August 2022. Authorities are trying to figure out where the tribes have been getting their supplies of weapons and ammunition so that they can hold those parties responsible for the recent deaths as well.

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