Archipelago

Media warned on Papua as
death toll increases

Papua caretaker governor Syamsul Arief Rivai lamented the killing of another civilian in the latest assault blamed on a secessionist armed group in the province, while the police warned the media against focusing too much on the so-called separatists.

“The provincial administration and the Papuan people express our condolences over the death of a village head in Keerom regency. We are deeply sorry for this,” Syamsul said when attending the Bhayangkara (police) anniversary in Jayapura on Monday.

Yohanus Yanufrom, head of Sawio Tami village, was reported to have been shot dead by a group of 20-30 armed people while riding a motorcycle from his village to Workwana on Sunday.

The group also targeted a military motorcade, with Col. Indarto, the chief of the 431/Kostrad (Army Strategic Reserves Command) battalion, having his car strafed with gunshots. A bullet pierced on the car’s windows and injured his driver.

Syamsul appealed to the police and the Indonesian Military (TNI) to deal thoroughly with the incident, saying that justice must be done in order to keep public trust in security institutions.

He also called for all community elements to help preserve security. “If security prevails, people in Papua will feel safe,” he said.

The body of Yohanes, 30, was to have been handed over by Keerom Regent Yusuf Wally to relatives at the regency’s office in Arso, but no relatives attended, with them reportedly having already fled to forests fearing another attack.

“No children or other relatives were there to receive the corpse. They all fled to the forest because they were scared. The police and military will keep chasing the perpetrators,” pastor John Jonga said when contacted by The Jakarta Post.

He said Nahor Simar, former member of Keerom legislative council and Arso Timur district head Karel Muyasin, had offered to act on behalf of relatives to accept Yohanes’ body.

The body will be buried on Tuesday, awaiting Yohanes’ wife from Biak, West Papua.

Yohanes is the sixth death as a result of violence that has battered the province in the past few weeks. The violence has also injured five people.

Papua Police chief Insp. Gen. Bigman L Tobing said they would keep searching for the perpetrators.
“Together with military, we are committed to uncovering this case as long as the perpetrators remain in Indonesia.

Bigman also warned the media against focusing too much on the so-called separatist movement in the region.

“If the media know the whereabouts of these separatists, please inform us. The media should not respond to media conference invitations from any of these [secessionist groups]. They do not deserve the media spotlight,” Bigman said.

Although the perpetrators were reported to have fled into Papua New Guinea, National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman said they had been identified.

“When pursued, they fled to the area near the border [with Papua New Guinea]. We have identified some armed groups in the area and we suspect that the assailants are among them,” Marciano said in
Jakarta on Monday.

“Our investigation has been narrowed down so our operation has clear targets,” he added.

— Bagus BT Saragih contributed to this report from Jakarta

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