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

Man killed in crossbow attack as warring tribes turn rural town into apocalyptic nightmare
Ongoing unrest has left West Daly region in tatters (ABC News/YouTube Screenshot)

PEPPIMENARTI, AUSTRALIA: A young man has been arrested after a tragic crossbow attack that shook a rural outback hamlet in Australia's Northern Territory. Following the death of a 36-year-old man who was reportedly shot in the chest with an arrow late Tuesday night, September 13, more police officers have been sent to the village of Peppimenarti, about 200 miles southwest of Darwin. He was taken urgently to a nearby medical facility but died soon after. Police were working with an 18-year-old male who has subsequently been accused of manslaughter while aiding them in their investigations. Major crime detectives, crime scene investigators, and members of the tactical section of the NT Police were all dispatched to the area as additional resources.

The West Daly Regional Council has likewise suspended all of its operations in Peppimenarti until further notice due to the reported event. Additionally, calls to the nearby medical facility are rerouted to the Palumpa Health Centre 30 miles away. Detectives think the event had something to do with the continuing turmoil in the adjacent Wadeye area, where there have been reports of violent battles between competing indigenous tribes earlier this year. 


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"We believe it will be connected to the ongoing disturbances out there over a period of time," Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Morrissey told reporters. National Indigenous Australians Agency Reconciliation Action Plan central group member Henry Wilson said the community has been devastated by the latest incident. "Everyone is not OK," he told the NT News.

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 across the wider West Daly region in the past few months. Full-scale riots that broke out in Wadeye, about 56 miles west of Peppimenarti, in May have since spilled over to surrounding towns. "Police are working with elders, the local council and other government agencies to maintain community safety," a police statement read.


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

The latest incident comes after Peppimenarti was rocked by civil unrest, family feuds, and even an incident involving gunfire. Reportedly, shots were fired in the neighborhood in November last year, and police had to intervene in large numbers. A man was later detained in connection to the incident. In 2020, a family dispute led to one man shooting another with an arrow from a compound bow in the chest. The man received a prison term after being found guilty of intentionally causing severe damage. In the feud, family members fought on the basketball court at Peppimenarti after a pet dog was run over. Several of the combatants were equipped with rocks and steel rods.

But Wadeye, a West Daly village about an hour away, might be considered even more violent in comparison. Wadeye was founded with the aim of giving isolated Aboriginal people access to modern services. More than 4,000 people now live there, more than double the number it had ten years ago. The area has experienced enormous riots, gang warfare, intentional home fires, severe food shortages, and mass displacement. Out of the 4,000 residents in the municipality, about 500 have already left. A fourth of the residences in the neighborhood have either been destroyed or damaged as a result of the violence, many of them by fire.

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