Bagus BT Saragih and Nethy Dharma Somba, Jayapura/Jakarta – Armed groups were believed to have infiltrated cities and towns in Papua as calls for tougher measures grew in the wake of escalating violence in the easternmost province.
"We are now intensifying investigations and looking for information where these groups are coming from and who they are," National Intelligence Agency (BIN) Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman told reporters before departing for Ambon, Maluku, as part of a presidential entourage.
He said these groups had usually been stationed in remote areas, but occasionally entered cities and towns with the help of associates in cities updating information about the movements of law enforcement and military officers.
"I hope Papuans support the efforts and help provide us information should they see civilians in possession of firearms," he said.
The bloody week was marked with unabated threats of a mysterious shooting, military rampage that left a civilian dead and scores of others injured as well as a fatal shooting by a police officer.
An independent human rights group, West Papua Media, alleged the rampage – launched following a comrade death – killed three civilians and said that the TNI and police should be held responsible for the deaths.
The group has posted a disclaimer, however, saying that its report, which is available online at westpapuamedia.info, is a preliminary report only; further assessment needs to be carried out by local human right workers.
Marciano said his office had preliminary information about the profile of the armed groups, "but it is not good to let you have this information."
The head of government-sanctioned Presidential Unit for the Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B), Lt. Gen. (ret.) Bambang Darmono, acknowledged that the situation in some places in Papua could no longer be considered conducive.
"This has prompted many to speculate over what are actually behind these violence," he said, adding that the police must probe the incidents immediately to help smooth his unit's programs.
Calls for investigation into the case came from the Caucus of Papua at the House of Representatives, who urged President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to immediately appoint an independent investigative team.
"We note that at least 15 people have mysteriously died in the last one month, but nothing has seriously been acted upon in the cases. It seems that the government has intentionally ignored the escalating violence there," lawmaker Paskalis Kossay, who chairs the Caucus, said Friday.
From Jayapura, rights activists expected the police to continue pursuing the perpetrators in spite of the arrest of West Papua National Committee (KNPB) head Buchtar Tabuni, who was allegedly linked to violent protest in May.
"Buchtar has been arrested, but we hope the unidentified gunmen who have caused terror also be caught and don't let Buchtar become the scapegoat of the shootings," Manokwari Education, Research, Investigation and Legal Aid Institution (LPPPBH) executive director Yan Christian Warinussy said.
Yan said he had his own reasons that Buchtar, or KNPB, was not behind the shootings that terrorized Jayapura residents over the past week.
Papua Police spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Johanes Nugroho said Buchtar was arrested not because of the shootings but the incidents that took place following the protests so far held by KNPB in Jayapura.
Buchtar became a suspect in a vandalism case, but was not detained so he could improve the performance of KNPB during protests. He said the police had a number of names and promised to bring them to justice.
Teyu Tabuni, who was killed by police personnel on Thursday, was buried on Friday.
[Margareth S. Aritonang contributed reporting from Jakarta.]