Jakarta – As many as 790 people have fled their homes in mountainous areas around the Freeport mining site to take refuge at the Tembagapura Police headquarter in Timika, Papua, on Friday over fears of an armed criminal group (KKB), the police have claimed.
Papua Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Ahmad Mustofa Kamal said in a statement issued on Saturday that the residents, comprising 100 children, 370 women and 320 men, came in groups from three villages, namely Longsoran, Batu Besar and Kimbeli.
The spokesperson added that residents from Banti village might also take refuge at the police office.
Ahmad went on to say that the residents had voiced their unease over the presence of the KKB, which has reportedly terrorized the villagers.
"According to the villagers, they wanted to take refuge in Timika because of the unease in their villages caused by the presence of the KKB. The group has occupied their villages and harassed them, even demanding food at gunpoint," Achmad said, as quoted by kompas.com.
The police have been verifying the identities of the villagers, who will be evacuated to downtown Timika by bus. The villagers will also be provided with food, Achmad said.
Security authorities previously reported that armed groups had been shooting at Indonesian Military (TNI) and police guard posts. The residents' access to basic needs, such as food and health care, has reportedly been impeded the KKB occupying roads.
Authorities also claimed the residents were still traumatized from their previous encounter with the armed group in November 2017, when it blocked access into and out of several villages. (ars)