A PASTOR conducting Sunday sermon and members of his congregation were assaulted, his church destroyed and at least 10 PMV buses sustained various damages after drunk youths went on a vehicle-stoning rampage near Madang, The National reports.
Yesterday, Madang police chief Supt Anthony Wagambie warned of a police raid to flush out the culprits hiding in the problematic settlements at Mero bridge, on the road leading out of town towards the Bogia highway.
Police said the churchgoers were innocent victims of a group whose bus had been stoned and were in hot pursuit of those responsible who had fled in the direction of the church and had gone into hiding nearby.
Madang police station commander Snr Insp Steven Kaipa said after a fruitless search for the stone throwers, the angry mob turned on the churchgoers, attacking them and assaulting the pastor after dragging him from the pulpit.
He said the nearby community then took the law into their own hands, throwing stones and missiles at town-bound PMV buses, damaging at least 10 of them.
In retaliation, bus operators and their relatives, numbering about 200 and armed with various weapons, converged at Jomba police station to say they were raiding Mero and Public Tank settlements, home to mainly
Kaipa said police had to cool tempers but warned that tensions were still high, adding that another stoning incident would turn into an all-out ethnic clash at these settlements.
Wagambie agreed, saying something drastic must be done about the Public Tank and Mero settlers.
He recalled a similar incident last month when more than 15 cars were damaged by stone-throwing youths in the area, resulting in police raiding the settlements to round up suspects.
Police believed Sunday’s attack was sparked by a group of youths from the settlement who had been drinking homebrew. Some in the group stoned a passing 8A bus, owned by a Western Highlander, heading to town from Sagalau market.
Wagambie claimed that the Sepik settlers were known for harrassing, attacking and robbing motorists and passengers using this section of the
He said police knew the names of three suspects and were looking for them.
Early this year, Madang Governor Sir Arnold Amet also called for zero-tolerance from landowners in a bid to evict squatters in light of rising criminal activities.
In 2000, his predecessor James Yali carried out a mass eviction on settlements in the town area.
Last week, Wagambie and Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather announced that a five-member special response unit would patrol the