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Porters hacked to death by PNG bandits in attack on Aussie, N.Z. trekkers

AFP-JIJI

A group of Australian and New Zealand trekkers who were brutally attacked by bandits in Papua New Guinea told Thursday of their harrowing ordeal and horror as two porters were butchered.

The eight tourists were in their tents on the remote jungle-clad Black Cat Track, in the lawless Pacific nation’s northern Morobe province, when a mob of six armed men struck at dusk on Tuesday.

Two porters were hacked to death with machetes — one reportedly was partially decapitated — while up to six others were seriously wounded. Four of the Australians were also injured, including one who was speared through the leg.

“It started to rain, and some of us were inside the tents when there was a whole lot of noise, shouting. I thought the boys had found a bush kangaroo, an animal or something like that,” one of the survivors, Nick Bennett, told Channel Nine after arriving in the capital, Port Moresby.

“Next thing, I thought, ‘What’s going on?’ I put my head outside tent, and smack! I thought I’d been shot, actually,” he said of being struck with a rifle butt. “Blood just erupted out of my head, and I looked up and I saw this guy with a mask on standing over me, and then the whole thing unfolded.

“They were laying into the porter boys. I realized they were butchering the porters. It was just appalling, and we’re very fortunate.”

Survivor Peter Stevens told Australian Associated Press he and the rest of the group were forced to lie on the ground as the men ransacked their backpacks, stealing passports and other items.

The tourists managed to hike four hours to safety, led by the only woman in the group, Australian trek guide Christie King.