Commissioner of Police David Manning says the security forces will continue to neutralise combatants, and search warrants are being executed against agitators who are instigating the fighting for their personal and political gain.
“People around our country are horrified by the senseless killing in parts of the Highlands Region, particularly in Enga Province,” the Commissioner said following his weekend briefing with the Prime Minister.
“Operational plans are being adapted to focus on the root manipulators of the bloodshed, while we are increasing the number of security force personnel deployed to hotspots to minimise killing and property damage.
“Through their respective commanders, security force personnel have been instructed to use all means necessary to detain gunmen and to use lethal force when warranted.”
Commissioner Manning said he has advised the Prime Minister and the Internal Security Minister on a number of additional measures being undertaken to reconfigure security operations in Enga.
“Assistant Commissioner Operations, Samson Kua, will lead the effort in his new appointment as ACP Western Region. ACP Kua is being supported with an enhanced deployment of specialist tactical equipment to deliver maximum damage to the criminal element in Enga.
“We are also bringing in senior and respected security personnel who are either from Enga, or have long term experience in the area, to advise local commanders. This is essential for security forces to intervene, and to identify and arrest known agitators, including any political operatives.
“It is important that ramping up personnel in hot spots in Enga does not undermine security presence in other areas. As such, I have appointed Assistant Commissioner Anthony Wagambie Jnr to focus on enhancing security operations to support the reopening of Porgera mine, while force strength in areas such as Hela and the Southern Highlands will be maintained.
“We are further increasing capacity for holding the number of detainees from the tribal conflict areas and being processed through the courts. Security personnel guarding those in custody will have zero-tolerance for any risks to the safety of those in custody, guards or the community,” Mr Manning said.
The Commissioner said the approach being taken in Enga today is a break from the colonial methods of the past.
“While we bring the full weight of the State to bear on those who perpetrate these heinous acts, we must be honest and acknowledge that security forces cannot arrest or kill our way out of tribal fighting in Enga. We have to deal with the cause of these conflicts at the roots and stop this senseless violence where it starts.
“We all know the tribesmen going out with guns and bush knives are being manipulated by politicians at all levels. These are puppeteers shedding the blood of their tribesmen for their personal gain.
“Hired gunmen are also being used to conduct raids on villages, but these hired idiots are being slaughtered because they do not know the lay of the land they are threatening.
“A series of search warrants have been sought and are being enacted in relation to the property and communications devices used by known agitators. These include businessmen, political leaders and other prominent people who have affiliations to tribal factions.
“We have to accept that the colonial intervention strategies of the past 50 years have not worked and only made minimal progress. We are dealing with thousands of people who are driven by tens of thousands of years of traditional ways of dealing with conflict.
“There has never been a specific strategy that honestly brings together cultural tradition with modern law enforcement, and of course the potential of political manipulation, so this is where we are rewriting the rulebook.
“As Commissioner, I will see our Police Force continue to adopt a problem-focused model of policing, responding to serious crimes forcefully and without hesitation.
“Community policing engagement will continue with relevant personnel, while the main effort is using force to stop the fighting and detaining the political agitators.
“Many of these are politicians who wear a suit and tie by day, and abuse cultural beliefs and manipulate tribes by night.
“The presence of security force personnel is increasing in Enga Province, and our message is simple. If you pick up a weapon with the intention of fighting you will likely be killed, and if you are a political manipulator causing villagers to bear arms, there is nowhere for you to hide,” Mr Manning said.