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Timika fighting continues as aggrieved group seeks revenge

Jakarta Post - January 9, 2010

Markus Makur, Timika – A new clash broke out between two rival groups in Kwamki Lama village in Timika district, Papua, on Friday.

A day earlier police had managed to stop the fighting that started on Monday afternoon. So far the clashes have left one man dead and dozens of others injured.

The new clash began at around 5 a.m. local time Friday following provocation from one of the groups since Wednesday night. At least 16 people were wounded in the latest fighting. They were taken to Mimika General Hospital and Mitra Masyarakat Hospital (RSMM) for treatment.

One of the injured was identified as Niko Magai who sustained arrow shot wounds to the back.

The rival groups, fighting using traditional weapons, picked a forest area as their new battlefield in Kwamki Lama, after local police parked an armored vehicle on the street on Jl. Cendrawasih between the two warring neighborhoods on Wednesday.

Police said the feud started because compensation, demanded by one tribe for a rape allegedly committed by a member of the rival tribe six months ago, remained unpaid.

The rival groups defied the police's call for an end to the violence, with one of them wanting to avenge the death of one of its members after Monday's clash.

Witnesses said the police found it difficult to stop the clash until one person from the rival group was also killed.

"The Upstream Group led by Karminus Kinal insisted on rejecting peace because one of its members had been killed.

"There must also be a death from the Downstream Group," a local resident said. Police deployed around 200 personnel to Kwamki Lama to quell the fighting, but failed to restore peace between the two tribal groups, which are also linked by family ties.

So far, up to 70 people have been injured and one man killed in clashes since Monday. The deceased was identified as Albert Mom, 32, who died Tuesday at a hospital suffering a serious arrow shot wound.

Local community figure Yohanes Magai said Wednesday the clashes had caused many disadvantages to residents in Kwamki Lama. The fighting had disrupted classes at SD Inpres state elementary school in the village.

Clashes between tribes are common in Mimika, home to one of the world's richest gold mines. A protracted conflict in 2006 killed 18 people and another between tribes in Kwamki Lama claimed eight lives in 2007.