Separatists blamed for civilian killings

Nethy Dharma Somba, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura | Wed, 08/03/2011 8:00 AM

Police in Jayapura, Papua, claim the separatist group Free Papua Organization (OPM) were behind an attack in Nafri on Monday morning in which four civilians were killed.

“We believe the OPM are the perpetrators behind the attack and we are pursuing them,” Jayapura Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Imam Setiawan said while visiting victims of the attack at Abepura General Hospital.

The attack occurred at about 3:30 a.m. local time as a group of fresh produce vendors was travelling from Koya to Youtefa market in Abepura.

Sunardi, who was in one of the vehicles heading to the market, said they were queuing with five other cars to pass a hilly section of the road when a group of unidentified people carrying sharp weapons stopped the car.

He said one of the men stabbed Udin, the driver, but Udin tried to escape by stepping on the gas and crashing through a wooden barrier blocking the road and speeding to Abepura General.

The assailants also attacked people inside other queuing cars.

When police arrived at the scene, they found four dead bodies with stab wounds. The dead were identified as drivers Misman and Sardi, Titik Riyati and Domikus Keraf, a soldier.

Eight other people who were injured in the attack are currently receiving treatment at Abepura General and Bhayangkara Hospital.

Police claim to have found a Morning Star flag — used by the OPM and Papua independence supporters — at the side of the road near the site of the attack, damaged cars, ammunition shells and spears and arrows.

Pastor John Jonga, a recipient of the Yap Thiam Hien human rights award in 2009, said if the police speculation was correct, the perpetrators would be members of OPM-linked groups with aims to disrupt the Aug. 2 congress of the International Lawyers for West Papua (ILWP) in London.

The ILWP is a group of legal practitioners from around the world who support self-determination for the people of Papua.

The London congress was held to criticize the so-called Act of Free Choice in 1969, in which a hand-picked selection of Papuans chose union with Indonesia. The validity of the vote has been challenged.

“I have communicated with Papuan independence groups and they support peace. They said it was not clear who the attackers were,” John told The Jakarta Post.

He added that the attack was in response to the Peaceful Papua Conference held at Cenderawasih University on July 5-7, where participants agreed to carry out their struggle for independence peacefully.
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