The attack happened just after 3pm on Tuesday along the mountainous Black Cat Trail.
The group of 23, including eight Australians and one New Zealander, were confronted by least six men armed with machetes and firearms.
According to two of the men who escaped, much of the focus was on the Papua New Guinean porters.
“They slashed them on the arms and legs,” said one of the eyewitnesses who escaped the attack. “One was cut on the arms and another on the head.
“Two of them died in my arms as I held them.”
Six porters were airlifted to Lae’s Angau General Hospital just before midday. All suffered serious knife injuries. The tourists have been flown to Port Moresby for medical attention.
Officers from the district administration were in contact with at least one member of the group by 5pm but it took another six hours before a chopper was organized to medevac the injured to Wau for initial treatment.
“The New Zealander was cut on his face and one of the Australians was stabbed in the thigh,” said the eyewitness.
The brutal attack has received strong condemnation from the Morobe Governor Kelly Naru and Bulolo MP Sam Basil. Both men held separate news conferences in Port Moresby today to express their disgust at the killings.
The matter was also raised in Parliament this morning with the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, announcing that the government will put in place special policing measures to protect tourists visiting Papua New Guinea. [EMTV]