Print Email Facebook Twitter MoreBloody clashes with military rock Papua province
AM By Indonesia correspondent Matt Brown in Jakarta, wires
Updated June 08, 2012 10:39:44
At least a dozen people have been shot in a string of bloody incidents in Indonesia's Papua province.
While Indonesian officials blame Papuan separatists, local activists say the security forces themselves are responsible.
In the latest incident, soldiers are accused of going on a shooting spree at Wamena in the Baliem Valley.
The unrest began when two soldiers driving on the outskirts of town ran over a young boy and killed him on Wednesday.
The villagers then stabbed one of the soldiers to death.
The local military spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Ali Hamdan Bogra, says other soldiers from the Brigade became so angry at the stabbing they left their barracks and headed into town.
It seems clear they were seeking revenge. But Lt Colonel Bogra says senior officers stopped them and calmed them down.
Local activists say the soldiers, in fact, killed at least one person, who was buried yesterday. They may have killed others, because activists say several people who were wounded have disappeared.
"Almost all members of the battalion came down and started shooting whoever they saw," activist Sebby Sambon said.
"They also burned our traditional houses. The military and police see us as a primitive people, they don't think we are human, they think we are animals and they can shoot us like animals."
We didn't burn people's houses. Its impossible. We're soldiers, we don't do that.
Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ali Hamdan Bogra
Activists have also released a large number of unconfirmed photographs, which show Papuans suffering gunshot wounds and houses going up in flames.
They say members of the Australian-trained counter terrorism unit, Detachment 88, were working in support of the soldiers, as well as the notorious Mobile Brigade riot squad.
A local priest, Sofyan Yoman, says the authorities should have simply charged the villagers responsible.
"Why did the soldiers burn down the homes of the common people.. and stab them with their bayonets? That's not protecting us, that's murder," he said.
National police said the military had been involved.
"Following the road accident soldiers from the local military arrived in two trucks and took revenge by firing gunshots toward local residents and setting a number of houses on fire," national police spokesman Saud Usman Nasution told AFP.
"The trouble then spread to the city centre where a number of shops and houses were also damaged by gunshots."
However, Lt Colonel Bogra denies any military role in the shootings and says the villagers burned the homes and tried to blame the military.
"We didn't burn people's houses. It's impossible. We're soldiers, we don't do that," he said.
Photo: An unconfirmed photo from activists shows burnt out remains of a building at Wamena. (Unconfirmed photos from West Papua Media)
It has been a dramatic end to a troubled week in Papua.
In Jayapura on the north coast on Monday, police arrested more than 40 people at a rally by the West Papua National Committee.
They shot and killed one of the protesters and seriously wounded two others.
Four other civilians and a soldier were shot in separate, mysterious incidents.
Human rights groups often blame the shadowy forces of local military and intelligence units for violence like this.
But the police blame pro-independence groups and yesterday they arrested the head of the West Papuan National Committee.
Opposition MP Tubagus Hasanuddin - a member of the Parliaments Defence Committee - says he wants answers.
"How can there be 30 shootings in one-and-a-half years and not a single case solved?" he asked.
"Twenty-seven victims have fallen.
"We must find out why."
A team from the parliaments defence committee is travelling to Papua to investigate.
Photo: An unconfirmed photo from activists shows burnt out remains of a motorbike and building at Wamena (West Papua Media)
Topics: unrest-conflict-and-war, papua
First posted June 08, 2012 09:38:34