140 arrested over Vanuatu violence

140 arrested over Vanuatu violence

140 arrested over Vanuatu violence

Updated 31 March 2012, 0:45 AEDT

Around 140 people have been arrested in Vanuatu over the deaths of three people in the weekend's tribal violence.

The Pacific territory is under a state of emergency, after rival groups of migrants from other parts of Vanuatu clashed in the capital, Port Vila, on Saturday.

The clashes followed allegations of witchcraft and black magic among groups from the islands of Ambrym and Tanna.

During the fights two men were killed with knives, one from each island.

Three homes were destroyed by fire during more fights on Sunday.

The Commander of Crime with Vanuatu Police, Lieutenant Colonel Aru Maralau, says it's the worst violence of this type Vanuatu has ever seen.

"It was bad, I mean we've never had anybody killed before in such incidents," he said on Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program.

"It was supposed to be controlled by the chiefs, but that's how bad it is".

Under the state of emergency, public meetings can not be held and movement has been restricted between the islands.