ETHNIC clashes in Port Moresby have spilled into the Highlands with eight people allegedly held captive in the Nebilyer area of the Western Highlands. Sources told the Post-Courier last night seven vehicles have also been taken by the people over the brutal murder of a young man from the area in Port Moresby on Wednesday (see story on page 6). The source said this was made known at the haus karai (mourning house) at Morata on Wednesday night. It is believed the captives are from Tari, Southern Highlands province. So far, four Western Highlanders and one Tari are reported killed in clashes in Port Moresby, but these figures could not be independently verified last night. Port Moresby city came to a standstill yesterday with schools forced to close early and business houses drastically affected. This followed the stop-work by PMV and taxi operators in the nation’s capital. THE transport shut-down followed the reported killing of four Western Highlanders, allegedly by Taris of Southern Highlands. Schools closed around midday, forcing school children as young as seven to walk miles from school back to their respective suburbs, and business closed due to lack of customers. The Western Highlanders, who own most of the buses and taxis in the city, agreed unanimously yesterday at the Kone Tigers oval in Waigani they would not operate the services for the next five days. The stop-work began around 10am following the alleged killing of another Western Highlander at the Jackson’s Airport, making him the fourth man in a week. Stop ‘N’ Shop manageress in the town supermarket Christiana Lohai told the Post-Courier her shop was virtually empty at the time this paper spoke to her. Ms Lohai said the stop work by the PMV and taxi operators was drastically affecting her shop and would be worse if the threat was carried out to maintain the PMV strike. With the only form of public transport stopping for the next five days, Port Moresby is expected to lose a lot of business and leave fearful city residents without the necessities. The troubles started last Friday following the stabbing of a young Western Highlander at the Gordon market allegedly by a Tari man. It is said the Western Highlanders was trying to stop a Tari man from running away with a PMV’s day’s takings when he was stabbed. This developed into an ethnic clash resulting in the killings. Meanwhile, the secretary general of Amalgamated General Workers Union Andrew Kandakasi condemned the actions of the PMV operators. Mr Kandakasi said while he sympathised with the Western Highlanders for the loss of lives, the general public should not be penalised for the actions of a few. Mr Kandakasi said the commuters were not responsible for the actions and they were being penalised unjustly. He also raised concern the public was not informed and women and schoolchildren were walking for many kilometres and putting their lives at risk.