Papua New Guinea's Minister for Community Development says a multi-billion dollar liquified natural gas project is spurring inter-village war between traditionally non-violent tribal groups.
Dame Carol Kidu's comment comes as police in Southern Highlands continue to dismiss suggestions that violence could derail Exxonmobil's construction of an LNG pipeline between the province and Port Moresby.
Despite the company's suspension of construction in several areas this week in response to ongoing violence, police say tribal fighting existed long before the project and is unrelated.
But Dame Carol says she spent last week negotiating between two villages within the LNG site area who went to war over the project.
"We expect those things in some tribal groups in the remote areas but these are groups of people who have been through a long period of missionisation, colonisation, pacification and were seen as the very non-violent people of Papua New Guinea. But suddenly with this LNG project and all of the tensions and jealousies over the land ownership and all these things, it blew up into a tribal war, a village war; inter-village war."
Dame Carol Kidu, Papua New Guinea's Minister for Community Development.