9 Feb 2010

Police, villagers clash over LNG project

9:15 pm on 9 February 2010

Heavily armed police in Papua New Guinea have clashed with hundreds of villagers near a proposed site for the ExxonMobil-led liquefied natural gas project site.

Preparations for the project in the Southern Highlands Province were again disrupted by a tribal fight at the weekend.

Media reports say 300 heavily armed warriors fought with police in an hour-long gun battle.

No one was injured in the shootout and more police are being deployed to the area.

Last week, ExxonMobil stopped construction of a road for the project near Port Moresby after five clansmen were shot dead in tribal fighting.

Escaper recaptured

Meanwhile, police have recaptured the country's most wanted criminal who escaped from Bomana maximum security prison in Port Moresby nearly a month ago.

William Kapris was one of 12 of the country's toughest prisoners who escaped after a warder was taken hostage and a woman posing as a lawyer pulled a gun on guards.

A nationwide manhunt was launched, the correctional services minister was stripped of his portfolio and the prison commissioner was sacked.

Radio New Zealand International reports the breakout is regarded by some in PNG as a symptom of an ailing corrections system.