Residents take shelter at the Jayawijaya Police headquarters in Wamena, Papua, after riots broke out in the city on Monday. (Antara Photo/Marius Wonyewun)

Calm Returns to Papua, but Riot Death Toll Rises to 26

BY :TELLY NATHALIA

SEPTEMBER 24, 2019

Jakarta. Calm has returned to Jayapura and Wamena in Papua on Tuesday even though the death toll from yesterday's riots had risen to 26, with more than 90 people injured, officials said.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said 733 students are still being detained at the Papua Police headquarters in Jayapura.

Most of the students had returned to Papua from other parts of Indonesia last month to escape racial and ethnic discrimination.  

"They are being detained to be interrogated. If they haven't committed any crimes, they will be released," Dedi said.

In an incident near the Waena Expo Cultural Park in Jayapura, one soldier and three students were killed, while 27 others, including seven policemen, suffered from injuries. 

Papua Police spokesman Chief Comr. Ahmad Musthofa Kamal said 22 people have also died and 72 others were injured during riots in Wamena, the capital of Jayawijaya district, on Monday.

The riots broke out following a student protest triggered by rumors that a teacher from the local Yaspin Senior High School had made a racist statement against Papuans.

Large crowds burned public and government facilities as well as private properties during the riot.

Papua Police said at least 80 cars, 30 motorcycles, 150 shops and houses and five government buildings were damaged.

The government buildings that were damaged included the district head office, the state utility company office and the state attorney office.

"Four more bodies were found today [Tuesday] and another person has died at the Wamena state hospital," the police spokesman said in a statement.

Residents are now taking shelter in four locations in Wamena – the police headquarters, the military headquarters, the Regional House of Representatives building and the Oikumerek Asso building, according to the spokesman.

Police said they suspected the riot in Wamena was orchestrated by the West Papua National Committee (KNPB).

"We suspect the riot in Wamena was orchestrated by the KNPB, who provoked mobs to create anarchy. They infiltrated the crowd of students wearing uniforms," National Police spokesman Dedi told reporters in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Police said the pro-Papua independence organization wanted to attract the world's attention to their cause during the United Nations Assembly Meeting in New York on Sept. 23-27.

National Police chief Tito Karnavian has been saying for some time that pro-independence groups have been trying to attract international attention and support for a referendum to allow Papua to secede from Indonesia.

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