JAYAPURA, Indonesia (AP) — Two people died and several others were wounded at a demonstration in Indonesia’s Papua province Tuesday, police said.
Protests erupted as some community groups rejected the government’s plan to form a new autonomous region in the mineral-rich but impoverished provinces of Papua and West Papua.
Other groups support the plans for new autonomous regions in Papua, which was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a U.N.-sponsored ballot that was widely seen as a sham.
A peaceful demonstration was carried out for three hours in Yahukimo district Tuesday afternoon. But friction between the people, coupled with a provocation, broke the peace as buildings were set ablaze around the demonstration area. Some participants began clashing with local police officers.
“There were victims both from the police officers and the community who were affected by police actions which resulted in death,” Ahmad Musthofa Kamal, spokesperson of Papua Police, said in a written statement Tuesday.
Two people died of gunshots by police officers and several people were also wounded, including a police officer.
In an interview on Wednesday, Kamal said that the situation has been brought under control. He said police are planning to add more personnel to the demonstration site, partly to ensure the police there follow procedural standards.
Conflicts between Indigenous Papuans and Indonesian security forces are common in the Papua region, a former Dutch colony in the western part of New Guinea that is ethnically and culturally distinct from much of Indonesia.
In recent years, some Papua students, including some who study in other provinces, have become vocal in calling for self-determination for their region.
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