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News reports in the South Pacific have confirmed that 24 people, children and pregnant women among them, have been killed in Papua New Guinea in a retaliatory attack by villagers.

Teddy Augwi, the chief police inspector for Hela Province, told a regional newspaper on the island that the fighting began when six people were killed while returning from a ceremony on Saturday.

According to the inspector the relatives of the dead then retaliated. The total number of victims is not yet known as accounts of the incident have been conflicting.

A police spokesman in the region told The New York Times that 16 women and children were killed. Two of the women were pregnant.

-Daniel Potter