SEVEN ARRESTED

A middle-aged man in Middle Bush, Tanna had three of his fingers cut off after an angry mob stormed his village over a land dispute.

Police told Daily Post the mob also burned down a 4 bedroom house and a Four-Wheel Drive vehicle that was used by villagers in the Middle Bush area.

Police also confirmed the arrest of seven men in the village that were allegedly directly involved in the incident.

Three of them — John Naiwa, Daniel Naiwa (the victim) and Mael Ikouo were released on bail yesterday afternoon.

Lawyer John Less Napuati said the trio are from one grouping. The other four who are still on remand are from the other disputing party.

Information relating to the attack is still sketchy but sources in the village back in Lamnatu said the fight stems from a long-time land dispute between the two families well before independence.

They said a group went to clear a garden in an area inside the disputed land and this sparked tension.

Reports said the unhappy party came to meet and solve the issue with the group who cleared the garden, but a fight broke out.

They said the matter is now under the control of police and the chiefs but the tension remains.

The dispute is said to be between the tribes of Natiang, Niere and Yauko.

The villagers said the matter has been an outstanding issue for a very long time and there were many custom meetings but they couldn’t resolve the issue. They said in the past there was a major dispute between the people of Lamnatu and Lamlu. This issue has been resolved.

The current issue a serious in-house dispute and the authorities in the village must look at ways to resolve it.

The last major land dispute in the same area around three years ago resulted in an old man knifed down in the village and three men in the community sentenced to lengthy imprisonment sentences.

Police told Daily Post that the area is gaining a reputation of having violent people.

They said the matter is now in the hands of the police and some police officers have been deployed to Tanna to help with the investigations.

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