25 Jan 2010

PNG police deny shootings related to LNG project

4:06 pm on 25 January 2010

Eleven people have reportedly been shot dead in Papua New Guinea, amid a dispute over profits from the massive LNG project.

The 16 billion US dollar project, will see a pipeline carrying liquid natural gas from an ExxonMobil site in PNG's Southern Highlands to Port Moresby from 2014.

The Post Courier reports a gang of villagers from Erave district, in the Southern Highlands, attacked their neighbouring clan with high-powered guns in an early morning raid over the weekend.

The raid is believed to be retaliation for a previous killing that happened in the lead-up to LNG benefit-sharing negotiations last December.

However, the The Southern Highlands Provincial Police Commander, Jimmy Onopia, says details are unclear so far, as police have been unable to get to the remote area.

"There is no road access, the only access is by air. We don't have the funds to charter a chopper or helicopter to fly in the troops. As for the 11 people killed, I can not confirm because we are yet to visit the area. It definitely doesn't have anything to do with the LNG project."

Jimmy Onopia says police hope to be into the area in the next two days to find out what happened.