Women and children are among a group of people murdered in a tribal massacre in Papua New Guinea’s Highlands area.
At least 24 people are confirmed to have died in a brutal flare up of violence between rival tribes over several days in Hela province. Some reports put the death toll higher.
PM James Marape has promised to track down the perpetrators calling it “one of the saddest days of my life”.
It is one of the worst outbreaks of tribal violence in PNG for years.
The motive for the killings is not yet known. However tribal clashes have been going on for more than 20 years in the region involving multiple clans.
‘Saddest day of my life’
Details are still emerging from the remote central area, but Hela provincial administrator William Bando told AFP news agency that 24 people were dead and there could be more.
Local news agency EMTV reported at least two incidents in small villages in the Tari-Pori district.
On Sunday, seven people – four men and three women – were killed in Munima village. Then on Monday, 16 women and children were hacked to death in the village of Karida, EMTV said. Two of the women were pregnant.
Pills Pimua Kolo from the Hela province department of health posted pictures on Facebook of what he said was the massacre in Karida village.
The pictures show a row of bodies wrapped in cloth and tied to long poles. He said some of them had been chopped into pieces and their body parts were hard to recognise.
Prime Minister Marape, who is from the area, said the killings were led by gunmen from the Hagui, Okiru and Liwi tribes and said he would seek out punishment for the people responsible.
“Gun-toting criminals, your time is up,” Mr Marape said.
“How can a province of 400,000 people function with policing law and order with under 60 policemen, and occasional operational military and police that does no more then band aid maintenance,” he added.
William Bando said he had now called for at least 100 more police to reinforce the existing 40 local officers.