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Rival communities clash in Timika

Jakarta Post - May 25, 2010

Markus Makur, Timika, Papua – Police in Mimika regency, Papua, on Monday detained four people following a conflict stemming from the death of a resident in an attack on Mimika Baru district on Sunday evening.

Mimika Police chief Muhammad Sagi told reporters on Monday that security conditions in Timika, Mimika's capital, were still tense following the murder.

Soon after the murder, he said each of the three involved community groups were blocking streets and conducting manhunts in search of members of rival groups. "We are trying to bring leaders of the rival groups together to reach an agreed solution," Sagi said.

He said the conflict emerged following the bashing death of Lamber Rumte alias Ondo Wambe, 30, of Kei, who was allegedly attacked by a group of people in a dam compound. The mob had accused Lamber of committing adultery at the site with one member their family, Yupina Tabuni.

Following the incident, according to Sagi, a group of people from the Kei community tried to exact revenge Monday morning by blocking Jl. Hasanuddin street, forcefully stopping passersby and burning tires.

The violence has so far resulted in wrongful attacks on Eltinus Kiwak, 42, of Amungme and Marthen Pigome, 25, of Paniai.

The revenge incident incited other groups of people both from Amungme and Paniai to take revenge by attacking the Kei residential complex in Pattimura area.

Together, hundreds of people from both Amungme and Paniai jointly blocked Jl. Budi Utomo and Timika Indah crossroads. Police were immediately deployed to the scene and no other incident materialized that day.

Sagi said there was a rumor spreading that a Paniai resident was taken hostage by the Kei group but it turned out later that the person was hiding in the woods before being found by police. The tension, however, prompted hundreds of Kei women and children from Kodok village in Kwamki Baru subdistrict to flee their homes.

Many took shelter at the nearby Indonesian Air Force Base in Timika in the face of rumors that a group of Amungme and Paniai people were set to attack Kei residential complexes all across Timika.

One of the refugees, Marci Tanlean, told reporters Monday she heard the information from a relative living in Pattimura. "We came here for our safety. We just brought with us what we could bring," she said.

The Air Force Base Commander, Let. Col. Nyoman Suadnyana, said they welcomed the refugee after coordinating with the Mimika police. "We will provide the hundreds sheltering here with whatever food we have," he said.