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Reinforcements Sent to Papua Town Following Police Station Attack

June 17, 2013

June 17, 2013

The Jakarta Globe
By Farouk Arnaz &
Banjir Ambarita

photo:

Jayapura. High ranking police officers and reinforcements arrived at
the Papuan highland town of Oksibil on Monday following an arson
attack on the Pengunungan Bintang district police station.

“This morning, 26 members of the Brimob mobile police brigade
arrived in Oksibil. Additionally, the chief and deputy chief of the
Papua Police, as well as the heads of the Papua Police’s internal
affairs, security intelligence and detectives units came to provide
special assistance,” Sr. Comr. Sumerta Jayua, a spokesman for the
Papua Police, said.

Sumerta said the incident began after the district police was told
that three drunken men were extorting money from a passerby in
Dabolding village.

“Four personnel went to the location to call on the men to halt what
they were doing, but the group not only ignored the policemen but went
on to attack them,” he said.

One of the men tried to take a firearm off one of the policemen, but
the officer resisted and hit the man with the butt of his rifle. The
man fled.

However, according to Sumerta, rumor quickly spread that the police
officer mistreated the three men, with some even saying that the three
were killed by law enforcers.

“People started to get emotional and take to the street. The
district police chief was forced to intervene to try and settle the
matter,” he said.

“The locals continued to reject his efforts and began to pelt the
homes of members of the district police with stones at around 10:00 on
Sunday.”

The protest took a violent turn, with the mob setting the district
police station and vehicles alight.

Three vehicles and 25 motorcycles, as well as the district police
headquarters, were gutted by the fire.

Nine police men were injured in the incident, as well as one army
first lieutenant and two civilians.

“We have not made any arrests,” Sumerta said.

Meanwhile, residents in Oksibil said on Monday that the town remained
tense, with people afraid to leave their houses.

“We are still worried and are opting not to go to work because we
fear that there may be more mob activity. Offices and stalls are also
closed,” one resident who declined to be identified said by
telephone.

The house of a local public figure, tribal chief Yance Kalakmabin,
which is located only 400 meters from the police station, was also set
ablaze, the resident said. Yance was out of town when the incident
took place, and people expressed fear that he would take revenge once
he returned home.

The resident, however, relayed a different version of the incident,
saying that it all started with members of the local district police
checking vehicles at a roadblock.

During the check, they supposedly found a drunken man, who was then
reported to be beaten until his head was bleeding. The report of the
beating incensed the local population.

“I was in church when a mob, angered by the report that a citizen
was beaten by the police, marched to the police station and set fire
to several motorcycles,” the source said.

Police began firing shots in the air after the mob already left the
station, the resident added.

A local public figure, who also declined to be named, said that the
episode occurred because of the population’s long simmering anger
over the police’s increased checkpoints.

He said that since Oksibil was part of Papua’s hinterland, many
residents did not possess driving permits. When the police began
impounding their motorcycles and disturbing their daily lives, they
became increasingly angry.

The public figured added that the fire which razed the house of the
tribal chief was not started intentionally. He said that it only
caught fire once the police began going after the mob, and that it was
possible that one of the police’s bullets may have sparked the
fire.

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