Yohanes Yanufrom, 30, became the latest victim of fatal violence that has escalated in Papua over the past few weeks.
Yohanes, the head of Sawio Tami village, Arso Timur district, Keerom regency, was reportedly shot dead by an unidentified group of armed assailants while riding his motorcycle from Sawio Tami to Workwana on Sunday at around 8 a.m. local time.
“After being gunned down, his body and the bike were dragged to the roadside,” Cendrawasih Military chief Maj. Gen. Erwin Syafitri told reporters at the military headquarters in Jayapura on Sunday.
Coordinating Politics, Security and Justice Minister Djoko Suyanto condemned Sunday’s incident, urging security authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
“The police and military must chase and arrest the perpetrators so that people know who was behind the violence,” he said in Jakarta as quoted by Antara.
Erwin suspected the perpetrators were members of the Free Papua Organization led by Lambert Pekikir.
Several minutes before the village official was shot, Col. Indarto, a member of the Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad), had his car strafed by gunshots on his way from inspecting troops in Sawio Tami. He is the 431/Kostrad battalion commander.
The bullets hit the car’s roof and the side windows.
“The battalion commander escaped unharmed, but his driver was injured by the broken windows,” Erwin said.
He was 200-300 meters ahead of Yohanes at time of the incident.
“The victim [Yohanes] was found as our personnel were chasing the perpetrators. I am sorry that a civilian was shot,” he said, adding that the assaulting group comprised 20-30 people equipped with various weapons, including some that were handmade.
“They fled to the PNG border, which made it difficult to continue the chase,” he said.
Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Bigman L. Tobing was reported to have received a letter from Lambert Pekikir, whose Free Papua Organization is believed to have bunkered down near the border zone.
The letter, according to Erwin, said that July 1 would be commemorated as the organization’s anniversary with the raising of the Bintang Kejora (Morning Star) flag. In the letter they threatened to enter Jayapura to create commotion.
“We managed to deter them from infiltrating Jayapura, but on their return to their base at the border area, they launched an attack and left a civilian dead,” he said.
The Bintang Kejora, which symbolizes the secessionist group’s fight for free Papua, was reportedly spotted in several places.
“We found one each at South Jayapura, Buper Waena, Kimbim and Mount Susu in Wamena. Citizens are generally not provoked into raising the flag,” Erwin said.
Five people, civilians and security personnel, were killed and another five were injured as mysterious shooting incidents have battered Papua over the last few weeks. Among the injured victims was German Pieter Dietmar Helmut, 55, who was attacked on May 29 at a tourist site in Jayapura.
Gilbert Ma’dika, a school student, was shot in the chest in June 4. The following day, Iqbal Rival was attacked while riding a motorcycle with a friend.
In a matter of minutes, First Pvt. Dongki Kune was fatally shot at Entrop Jayapura.
Motorcycle-ojek riders Arwan Aswan, Tri Sarono, First Pvt. Sahlan, civilian Elianus Yoman and Mako Tabuni were among those either killed or injured in the violent incidents.
Sunday’s incident came two days after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reiterated the government’s stance that would allow no room for dialogue by anyone seeking to push for a referendum.
In his visit to the Indonesian Military Command Institute in Bandung, the President said he would welcome any initiative for dialogue on development and people’s welfare rather than a referendum.
Some Papuan leaders applauded the President’s statement, calling for immediate action by the central government.
However, Indonesian human rights activists associated with Impartial warned that the government should also remain open to opportunities for dialogue sought by secessionist groups.