A 25-year-old man was killed and others injured during a violent riot that broke out in the remote Northern Territory community of Ali Curung, 377 kilometres north of Alice Springs, on Monday.
Police were called to the community at 11.30am Monday following reports that dozens of people were fighting with weapons and looting.
The town is now in lockdown after significant damage to property, including six to eight cars being set on fire.
The body of the man is now under investigation with an autopsy to be conducted, Southern Desert Division Superintendent Jody Nobbs told reporters.
No known cause of death has been confirmed with the case being treated as suspicious.
Officers have not charged anyone over the death of the 25-year-old man or any of the other crimes that were committed, however an investigation is underway.
“No one has been charged in this point in time. We’re still actively investigating in attempting to identify the perpetrators from yesterday,” Supt. Nobbs said.
Steve Edgington, mayor of the Barkly Regional Council, told NITV News that the town only has two police officers, requiring backup forces to come in from Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and Darwin.
“As soon as the additional police arrived, a number of people left the community. Some fled out bush and were hiding out bush,” Mr Edgington said. “The community is certainly a lot quieter than it was the other day.”
Extra police are still present within the community.
Mr Edgington said that about 100 people were involved.
“The western side of the community went to the eastern side of the community [and] commenced a whole lot of fighting and that led to quite serious fighting and rioting,” Mr Edgington said.
The town has seen conflict between the western side and eastern side for several years now, he said. “The fighting has been gradually escalating I suppose, and there has been other incidents".
Mr Edgington said that In August, Mr Edington wrote to the Chief Minister flagging the tensions and potential escalation of violence within the community, which also suggested strategic mediation was required.
In the late 1990s, a similar law and justice strategy had been in place in the Ali Curung community, but was discontinued in the early 2000s. Mr Edington said it had proved to work well for the community in that period.
Mr Edgington said several events had led to disputes and fighting within the community, with the ongoing conflict yet to be resolved.
The Indigenous community of Ali Curung was already in mourning before Monday's unrest, as a family believed to have strong ties with the town were found deceased last Wednesday on the outskirts of Willowra, a town 300 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs.
Police said it was unclear what started the community unrest, but are not ruling out a possible connection with last week's tragedy outside Willowra.
Mr Edgington was also unsure if the riot was linked to the tragedy, but said there would be discussions between community Elders, the Northern Territory government, the federal government and the Barkly Council on Wednesday to identify what responses could be provided and to maintain calm in the future.
“What I’ve been encouraging, is to look at counselling support, and further down the track, mediation to start bringing people back together,” he said.
People are advised to defer all unnecessary travel to Ali Curung at this time.