Papua Police investigate Paniai shooting
Nethy Dharma Somba
The Jakarta Post
The Papua Police deployed on Tuesday a team led by the headquarters' crime unit director Sr. Comr. Dwi Irianto to Enarotali, Paniai, to investigate an incident that killed five civilians and injured a number of people on Monday.
'The investigators have departed to Enarotali, Paniai to investigate the shootings that killed some civilians,' Papua police chief Insp. Gen. Yotje Mende said in Jayapura on Tuesday.
He also said three other teams from the National Police Headquarters, Indonesian Automatic Fingerprints Identification System (Inafis) and a forensic laboratory in Semarang were going to the regency to join the investigation team.
'If police officers are found guilty, they will be punished,' he said.
Yotje said he had not confirmed the causes of death of the victims and whether they were shot by the police, the Indonesian Military (TNI) or other groups.
He said before the incident occurred, residents blocked roads and disrupted traffic in Enarotali city. When the police were trying to negotiate with them to open the blockage, they heard gunshots from the nearby mountain.
At the same time, around 200 residents marched to the subdistrict military command (Koramil) office and ran amok. During the chaos, four cars were damaged and two military personnel sustained wounds on their heads. Yotje said after vandalizing the Koramil office, the mob headed to a subprecinct police office and hurled rocks through the windows, injuring three members of the police.
'The police only fired warning shots into the air, but after the situation was under control, a number of residents were found dead and injured,' he said.
Yotje said four people died and 10 people were injured during the incident. The deceased were identified as Yulian Yeimo, Simon Degei, Alpius Gobay and Alpius Youw.
The police's version of story was different to the testimony of Paniai Customary Council head John Gobay.
Gobay said the shooting took place at 10 a.m. local time as residents from Togokotu village were gathering at the field in protest over an incident from the previous night. The residents were performing the waita tribal dance in Paniai after setting fire to a black SUV that was believed to have been used by perpetrators who assaulted residents gathering at a Christmas event in Ipakiye village in East Paniai.
Police from a nearby station arrived at the field to disperse the crowd. The crowd continued dancing and did not disperse. Gobay said the police then fired into the crowed. Four people were killed on the spot and another one, identified as Saday Yeimo, died at the Madi Hospital from a shot to the stomach later on Monday evening. Meanwhile, 21 others suffered injuries.
Gobay said the initial provocation, which took place on Sunday evening, began when the black SUV, which did not turn on its headlights as it traveled through the hilly Togokotu area, reached the peak of a hill where children from a local church had built a Christmas hut. The local children scolded the driver for not turning on his lights while driving at night.
A quarrel ensued and the car then sped off to the Uwibutu 753 Special Team military command post. Not long after, the car, filled with recruits, returned to the Christmas hut and assaulted the children who were about 12 years old.
Separately, Natalis Pigai, a member of the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), said the incident was a serious crime against humanity.
He said he had reported the incident to President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo. He said some members of Komnas HAM would also go to Paniai to investigate the incident.
He added that based on the report filed with his group, five people died and 17 others were injured in the incident.
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