Tribal fight in Papua New Guinea sparked by pig theft leaves 10 people dead

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By Papua New Guinea correspondent Liam Cochrane, Bruce Hill

A tribal fight in Papua New Guinea's Hela Province over a stolen pig leaves ten people dead, including a six-year-old girl and a 60-year-old woman.

Several others were reportedly taken to hospital with gunshot wounds.

Police told local media the dispute was between the Wapiago and Tapamu clans.

Enga Province police commander Mark Yangen said the fighting seemed to have ceased, but things remained tense and the violence could flare up again.

"The fighting started over a pig. The suspect (pig thief) was arrested, then the owner of the pig came up with a gun and shot two guys, the relatives of the guy who was stealing the pig," Mr Yangen told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program.

"From then a fight flared up and four men were murdered at the scene ... and two on the other side of the group."

Mr Yangen said the 60-year-old woman and six-year-old girl were nearby and were killed in the fighting.

The pig thief has handed himself in and police have demanded the owner of the pig, blamed for starting the tribal fight, also surrender by Thursday.

PNG defence force soldiers have been called in to reinforce police trying to cope with the conflict.

In the country's highlands, pigs are symbols of wealth and power, as well as being food.

Australian Broadcasting Corporation