Police say three dead in protest in Papua

In a photo taken on Aug 22, students from Papua take part in a protest in front of Merdeka Palace to call for a referendum on independence.
In a photo taken on Aug 22, students from Papua take part in a protest in front of Merdeka Palace to call for a referendum on independence.PHOTO: DPA

JAKARTA - Shooting broke out at a protest in Indonesia's easternmost province of Papua yesterday, and police there said one soldier and two protesters had been killed.

A news website earlier said that as many as six people had been killed, but the army dismissed that as "a hoax".

Since last week, thousands of people in Papua have protested over perceived ethnic discrimination, leading to the torching of a market, a jail and government offices.

Shooting broke out yesterday when hundreds of protesters demonstrated in front of the office of the local regent in the town of Deiyai,the local authorities said.

Papuan police spokesman Ahmad Kamal said in a statement that one soldier had been killed and two protesters had died. He said one of the protesters was killed by a bullet and the other by an arrow. He did not say how the soldier died.

Five people had been wounded, he said.

"Some civilians were killed, but there is no certainty as to how many victims there are," Mr Hengky Pigai, the deputy regent for Deiyai, told Reuters.

He said a number of wounded were taken to the hospital.

Mr Markus Haluk, a leader of the pro-independence United Liberation Movement for West Papua, told Reuters by WhatsApp that six had people had died and seven people were shot and injured.

 
 
 

An official Twitter account for the Indonesian Armed forces dismissed a Reuters report quoting news website Suarapapua.com, a local resident and an activist as saying that six people had been killed. "It's a hoax. Protect the unity on Indonesia," the tweet said.

In Jakarta, national police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo dismissed reports of protesters being killed as "a provocation", but said one soldier was killed and three police officers hurt in the clash.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2019, with the headline 'Police say three dead in protest in Papua'. Print Edition | Subscribe