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Indonesia tightens security in Papua after nine killed, more than a dozen injured in riot

Reuters - February 24, 2023

Indonesian security forces have tightened security in the town of Wamena in the easternmost region of Papua, where nine people have been killed during a riot triggered by rumours about a child being kidnapped, according to an official.

More than 200 security personnel, including police and the military, were deployed to contain the situation after 14 people were hurt in Thursday's riot, police said.

The situation remained tense, but there had been no further violence, Papua province police spokesperson Ignatius Benny Ady Prabowo said by telephone.

The riot started after locals, angered by rumours about a child kidnapping, started throwing rocks at Wamena police station where a man accused of abducting a six-year-old was detained, he 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 nine people and injuring 14, Mr Prabowo said.

Tensions have been running high in Papua, which is one of the poorest, most underdeveloped parts of the country, since separatist rebels abducted a New Zealand pilot.

The Indonesian military has said it is prepared to conduct a "law enforcement operation" as a last resort to free the pilot if negotiations fail 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.

Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-24/indonesia-tightens-security-in-papua-after-nine-killed-in-riot/10202111