PREGNANT women, babies and young kids were reportedly among 16 people slaughtered in a tribal massacre in Papua New Guinea.
Disturbing photos reveal how the innocent victims were chopped up into “unrecognisable” parts using bush knives.
Officials believe eight of those killed were aged between one and 15, and that two of the women were pregnant, ABC reported.
The mass slaughter took place on Monday in the village of Karida in the Hela province.
Hela Gov. Philip Undialu said the killings were probably retaliation for an earlier attack that left around seven dead.
“This has escalated into the massacre of innocent women and kids,” Mr Undialu said.
Philip Pimua, the officer in charge of the Karida health centre, said the women and children were attacked at around 6am on Monday, after opening the door to the killers.
“I wake up in the morning, go to make a fire in my kitchen, at the same time I heard the sound of guns, then I saw some of the houses they were burning, so I knew that enemies are already inside the village,” Mr Pimua said.
“So I just ran away and hide in the bush, then later on, about 9 or 10, I came back and saw bodies chopped into pieces and houses were burnt.”
STRUGGLE TO IDENTIFY REMAINS
As well as guns, bush knives were used in the attack.
Pimua said he knew all the victims – “they are my people, I know them” – but that some were so badly dismembered that he and other villagers struggled to identify the remains.
“They were cut into pieces. Some had body parts we couldn’t recognise which one is which one, only the faces we can recognise, but legs, hands…”
Pimua said he and other villagers had wrapped the bodies in mosquito nets.
They then fled the village, fearing that the attackers were still hiding in the bush and might strike again.
He said they hoped to return to bury the bodies on Wednesday, but were waiting for police to come and escort them.
Pimua said the attack was from “enemies” and may have been connected to tribal violence, saying “they have fought for a long time there”.
The Post-Courier, based in the South Pacific island nation’s capital Port Moresby, reported as many as 24 people were killed in the villages of Karida and Peta since Saturday.
Six people had been ambushed and killed near Peta on Saturday, Hela Police Chief Inspector Teddy Augwi told the newspaper.
The victims’ relatives retaliated with rifles the next day, killing at least 16 people at Karida, including pregnant women, he said.
“This is not a tribal fight where the opposing villagers face each other on field,” Augwi told the newspaper.
“This is a fight in guerrilla warfare, meaning they play hide-and-seek and ambush their enemies.”
Many villagers had fled the violence, Hela Administrator William Bando told the newspaper.
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It was not immediately clear if any suspects had been arrested.
Tribal violence is common in Papua New Guinea’s interior, where villagers avenge relatives in retaliation known as payback.
Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape said those responsible for the fatal attacks could face the death penalty, ABC reported.
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