Members of warring Indigenous clans are arrested after a man died, speared in the head


Dozens of members of warring Indigenous clans are arrested after clashes sparked by the death of a man who was speared in the head at remote outback community

  • Violent clan wars in a remote Northern Territory region see 25 men arrested
  • Tensions between the clans have resulted in dozens of injuries to clan members
  • Armed groups of up to 300 have been fighting in and around Wadeye
  • Escalation between the clans was spurred on by the reported spearing of a man 

Dozens of men linked to violent clashes between rival Indigenous clans in a remote Northern Territory community have been arrested.

Police detained 25 men over riotous behaviour in Wadeye, 400km southwest of Darwin, which escalated in April after a man was reportedly speared in the head and died.

‘We have been systematically removing the instigators of violence for the past two months and the targeted arrests yesterday was a large step forward in bringing stability back into the community,’ Superintendent Kirk Pennuto said on Wednesday.

In new footage of the chaotic scenes in Wadeye, large groups of men are seen wildly gesturing, yelling and threatening each other with weapons (pictured)

In new footage of the chaotic scenes in Wadeye, large groups of men are seen wildly gesturing, yelling and threatening each other with weapons (pictured)

Tensions between the Wadeye clans have continued to escalate despite an increased Northern Territory police presence in the community (Pictured: Northern Territory police car)

Tensions between the Wadeye clans have continued to escalate despite an increased Northern Territory police presence in the community (Pictured: Northern Territory police car)

Ten of the alleged offenders were remanded in custody to appear in the Local Court in Darwin over the coming days on various charges, including engage [in] violent conduct, participate in riots and going armed in public.

Historic tensions between the clans is understood to have caused the conflict in Wadeye, which was established as a Catholic mission in 1935 and formerly known as Port Keats.

Since it reignited earlier in the year, fighting between armed groups of up to 300 people has left dozens injured and more than 500 people displaced after they were forced from their homes.

Footage posted online shows more than a dozen people smashing up a building in the community at night-time

Footage posted online shows more than a dozen people smashing up a building in the community at night-time

Police previously evacuated vulnerable Indigenous residents from Wadeye (pictured) amid an ongoing violent feud between rival clans

Police previously evacuated vulnerable Indigenous residents from Wadeye (pictured) amid an ongoing violent feud between rival clans

Many of those who fled returned to their homelands in the bush where some are struggling to get enough food and supplies, the NT government has reported.

‘The situation in Wadeye remains complex, police will continue to tirelessly support the community both from a safety perspective and in participating in discussions with stakeholders to find sustainable solutions to what are deeply entrenched cultural conflicts,’ Supt Pennuto said.

Wadeye is one of the largest Aboriginal communities in the NT, and home to about 3,000 people from 22 clans and seven language groups.

It is also situated in one of the most disadvantaged regions in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The NT government reports that 125 of the community’s 288 social housing properties need repairs after sustaining damage during the riots.

In June, at least four men were reported to have been left with arrows in their arms and legs after a violent clan stoush, shot with allegedly stolen crossbows from Darwin. 

Almost 20 crossbows were reported stolen from an Adventure store more than seven hours away from the community.

At least four men had arrows shot through their legs and arms in what's understood to have been a violent clash in a remote outback community in the Northern Territory

At least four men had arrows shot through their legs and arms in what’s understood to have been a violent clash in a remote outback community in the Northern Territory

Two men were captured pointing the crossbows at each other, believed to be in Wadeye (pictured)

Two men were captured pointing the crossbows at each other, believed to be in Wadeye (pictured)

Mass riots in the months before the crossbow shootings saw homes burnt, residents displaced and mass food shortages grip the community.

‘The situation in Wadeye is complex and police work tirelessly to support the community in remaining calm,’ NT Police Superintendent Kirk Pennuto previously said.

‘Makeshift weapons along with crossbows have reportedly been used with a small number of individuals requiring treatment at the clinic for non-life-threatening injuries over the past two months.

‘These disturbances will only be solved if family groups, elders, traditional owners and government agencies come together in order to discuss and implement solutions.’

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