Riot devastates remote NT community

Northern Territory Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ken Vowles has called for calm in the aftermath of a riot in the remote community of Ali Curung which left one man dead and saw vehicles set alight and properties looted.

“Unrest in any community is a concern and I urge residents of Ali Curung to work with police, and each other, to restore peace and give the community time to heal after the tragic deaths we have witnessed in the area recently,” Mr Vowles, an Aboriginal MP, said.

His comments came as Northern Territory police on Tuesday said they were working with Aboriginal elders to maintain peace in the community, which is about 377 kilometres north of Alice Springs and has about 500 residents.

Up to 100 people were reportedly involved in fighting in the town on Monday, which saw police deployed to the area from Alice Springs, Darwin and Tennant Creek and remain there overnight.

Southern Desert Division Superintendent Jody Nobbs said Tuesday they would not rule out that the riot was linked to the deaths last week of a 19-year-old man and woman, three-year-old boy and 12-year-old boy.

They died after their unroadworthy vehicle broke down on a dirt track near Willowra, 300kms north-west of Alice Springs, with a flat tyre and no fuel.

Police first received reports of unrest in the community, including property damage, at 11.30am on Monday.

The identity of a 25-year-old man who died at the community has not been revealed and the cause of his death has yet to be determined.

Supt Nobbs said five vehicles were set alight, there was looting, and that weapons — mostly blunt items — were used.

“We’ve established some relative calm,” he said. “It is our objective now, given the calm situation we have, to maintain that while progressing our criminal investigation in an attempt to identify the circumstances that led up to this matter, the underlying issues, and to identify those responsible.”

People are being asked to avoid or put off travelling to Ali Curung for the time being.

By Wendy Caccetta

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