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Papua New Guinea is in a strategically important part of the South Pacific (Unsplash/Spencer Wungin)

Australia is ready to assist Papua New Guinea authorities in quelling violence after dozens of people were killed in a massacre on the weekend. Source: The Age.

PNG Police revised the death toll in the country’s highlands to 26 after revealing they’d received the “wrong head count”.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese offered help to the Pacific nation, after the ABC reported that at least 53 people had died in the country’s northern Highlands region.

“That is very disturbing the news that has come out of Papua New Guinea,” Mr Albanese said.

“We remain available to provide whatever support we can in a practical way, of course, to help our friends in PNG.”

The massacre took place in the Enga province on Sunday. It was connected to a battle between two tribes, local media reported.

A tribe, their allies and mercenaries were on their way to attack a neighbouring tribe when they were ambushed, Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary Acting Superintendent George Kakas told the ABC.

Police expected to find more dead bodies among the wounded who had escaped into the woods, he said. Bodies were collected from the battlefield, roads and riverside, then loaded onto police trucks and taken to hospital.

Papua New Guinea is a diverse, developing nation of 10 million people with 800 languages in a strategically important part of the South Pacific.

Internal security has become an increasing challenge for its government as China, the US and Australia seek closer security ties.

Tribal violence in the Enga region has intensified since elections in 2022 that maintained Prime Minister James Marape’s administration.

The latest incident comes just over a month after Mr Marape declared a state of emergency in Port Moresby, the PNG capital, following violent riots on January 10 that killed at least 22 people, Vatican News reports. 

The Papuan bishops deplored the January 10 violence and expressed shame at learning that several Catholics involved in prayer groups and youth ministries joined in the devastation.


Dozens massacred in tribal fighting in Papua New Guinea (By Tess Ikonomou, The Age) 

Dozens killed in new ethnic clashes in Papua New Guinea (By Lisa Zengarini, Vatican News)