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Police likely to intensify Densus 88's role in Papua: Watchdog

Jakarta Post - June 18, 2012

Sita W. Dewi, Jakarta – Following recent shootings and arson incidents in Papua, police are likely to intensify the role of its Densus 88 anti-terror squad in the province - a move that could provoke a negative reaction from local residents, the Indonesia Police Watch (IPW) says.

"The effort is marked by the installment of the National Counterterrorism Agency [BNPT] chief Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian as the Papua Police chief," IPW chairman Neta S. Pane said Saturday.

"If [the installment] happens, the IPW is worried that Papua will become an operations area of Densus 88, meaning that there will be tougher security measures, whereas all that the province really needs is persuasive dialogue-based approaches," he added.

The IPW urged the police to improve mass guidance programs and intensify the role of intelligence instead. "Otherwise, it is not implausible that outsiders would use the moment to provide further support to separatist groups in Papua," he said.

The province has seen a spike in shootings and arson incidents recently, most of which remained unsolved. On Thursday the police allegedly shot a Papua independence activist, Mako Tabuni, who was reportedly involved in a number of provocative and violent incidents. Police claim that Tabuni attempted to escape when they tried to arrest him.

Tabuni died in the hospital an hour later. The incident triggered mayhem in Jayapura, Papua.