Betelnut ban-related killings spark unrest

by Theckla Gunga – EM TV, Port Moresby

The daily activities of villagers along the Laloki River have been disturbed following the recent death of three Highlanders on Sunday morning.

Villagers at Iema have refrained from their gardening and hunting activities in fear of their lives. The three men were believed to be killed while they were smuggling betelnut across the Laloki River.

Iema Village is home to over 500 people and is located next to Laloki River. Since the betelnut ban was introduced last November, the village became a smuggling point for betelnut vendors.

Over the past months, villagers have raised numerous concerns on their safety when carrying out their daily activities. However, nothing much was done to stop people using this land to smuggle betelnut.

In the recent killings that occurred on Sunday night, police officers are yet to establish a murder motive and weapon. Despite Laloki being the nearest police station to the crime scene, police officers at Laloki have confirmed they have not received any formal reports on the murders.

Meanwhile, transportation issues and lack of manpower remains one of the challenges Laloki police face.

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