Man killed in crossbow attack as warring tribes turn rural town into apocalyptic nightmare

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PEPPIMENARTI, AUSTRALIA: A young man has been arrested after a tragic crossbow attack rocked a rural hamlet in the outback of Australia’s Northern Territory. Following the death of a 36-year-old man who was allegedly shot in the chest with an arrow on the night of Tuesday September 13, more police were dispatched to the village of Peppimenarti, about 200 miles south- west of Darwin. He was rushed to a nearby medical facility but died shortly thereafter. Police were working with an 18-year-old man who was later charged with manslaughter while assisting them with their investigations. Major crime detectives, crime scene investigators and members of the Northern Territories Police Tactical Section have all been sent to the area as additional resources.

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West Daly Regional Council has also suspended all operations in Peppimenarti until further notice due to the reported event. Additionally, calls to the nearby medical facility are redirected to the Palumpa Health Center 30 miles away. Detectives believe the event has something to do with ongoing unrest in the adjacent Wadeye region, where there were reports of fierce battles between competing indigenous tribes earlier this year.

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“We believe this will be related to the ongoing unrest over a period of time,” Detective Sergeant Paul Morrissey told reporters. Henry Wilson, a member of the National Indigenous Australians Agency’s Reconciliation Action Plan Core Group, said the community had been devastated by the latest incident. “Not everyone is doing well,” he told NT News.

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It is understood the Northern Land Council has since called for an urgent meeting with the police and the police union. Local authorities have struggled to contain the bloodshed in the wider West Daly area in recent months. Large-scale riots that broke out in Wadeye, about 90 km west of Peppimenarti, in May have since spread to surrounding towns. “Police are working with elders, the local council and other government agencies to maintain community safety,” a police statement read.

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NT Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said the government was working to resolve the problems in the region. “These are complex and multifaceted issues that we will continue to address,” she added.

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The latest incident comes after Peppimenarti was rocked by civil unrest, family feuds and even an incident involving gunfire. Shots were reportedly fired in the neighborhood in November last year, and the police had to intervene in large numbers. A man was later arrested in connection with the incident. In 2020, a family dispute led to a man shooting another with an arrow from a compound bow in the chest. The man was sentenced to prison after being found guilty of intentionally causing serious harm. In the feud, family members fought on Peppimenarti’s basketball court after a pet dog was run over. Several of the fighters were equipped with stones and steel rods.

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But Wadeye, a West Daly village about an hour away, could be considered even more violent in comparison. Wadeye was founded with the goal of providing isolated Aboriginal people with access to modern services. More than 4,000 people live there today, more than twice as many as ten years ago. The region has seen huge riots, gang wars, intentional house burnings, severe food shortages and mass displacement. Of the 4,000 inhabitants of the commune, around 500 have already left. A quarter of the neighborhood’s residences were destroyed or damaged as a result of the violence, many of them by fire.

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