Indonesia tightens security in Papua after 10 killed in riot

More than 200 security personnel had been deployed to contain the situation after over 20 people had also been hurt in Thursday’s riot. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - Indonesia tightened security in the town of Wamena in the easternmost region of Papua, after 10 people were killed in a riot on Thursday triggered by rumours that a child had been kidnapped, an official said on Friday.

More than 200 security personnel, including police and the military, were deployed to contain the situation after over 20 people were hurt in Thursday’s riot, police said.

The situation was “manageable” but was being monitored, Papua province police spokesman Ignatius Benny Ady Prabowo said.

The riot had started after locals, angered by rumours about a child kidnapping, started throwing rocks at a police station where a man accused of abducting a six-year-old was detained, he previously said.

Police summoned the child’s parents to clarify that she was safe, but that failed to stem the violence and other buildings were set ablaze in the area, he added.

Security forces responded by opening fire, killing 10 people and wounding 23, said Mr Benny.

Amnesty International in Indonesia called for an investigation, saying the civilian deaths and “the excessive use of power by the state apparatus there” were regrettable. Papua’s police chief apologised for the deaths.

Tensions have run high in Papua, which is one of the poorest parts of the country, after separatist rebels abducted a New Zealand pilot in early February.

The Indonesian military has said it was prepared to conduct a “law enforcement operation” as a last resort to free the pilot if negotiations failed to secure his release.

Separatists have waged a low-level fight for independence since the resource-rich region, once governed by the Netherlands, was brought under Indonesian control following a controversial United Nations backed referendum in 1969. REUTERS

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