PNG police investigate grenade slaughter: reports

SYDNEY - As many as 34 people were killed in a remote part of Papua New Guinea when a grenade was thrown as part of a tribal war, reports said on Tuesday.

Monday's carnage happened in the Kagua-Erave district of the Southern Highlands and involved heavily armed warring factions of the Kambia and Wambe tribes.

The PNG National newspaper said 34 people died, including women and children, and another 28 were seriously injured, citing an explosion "similar to what a hand grenade would cause".

The Post Courier newspaper put the death toll at 14 after "a grenade was thrown into a house in a raid" and said it was expected to rise to 30, with at least eight houses burned to the ground.

"I strongly condemn this act of cowardice against women and children. This is not a tribal fight. This is outright murder of innocent women and children," Kagua Erave MP James Lagea was quoted by the Post Courier as saying.

Another official said police were being prevented from accessing the area "as the fighting has intensified because of the early morning attack".

The two tribes have reportedly been at loggerheads since 2011 following a funeral service for former MP David Basua during which a village councillor from the Wambe tribe was killed.

PNG is a sprawling, poor nation in the Pacific where crime is rampant and where black magic, sorcery and cannibalism sometimes occur.