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Jakarta Post

Raising of Bintang Kejora flag leads to shoot-out

  • Nethy Dharma Somba

    The Jakarta Post

Jayapura   /   Sun, April 6, 2014   /  10:43 am

The Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police are beefing up security in the area bordering Indonesia and Papua New Guinea in Skouw-Wutung following a shootout between TNI-police and dozens of armed civilians on Saturday.

The incident, which took place on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. local time until noon, was sparked when 30 armed civilians hoisted the Morning Star (Bintang Kejora) flag and took down the Indonesian Red-and-White in the neutral area of Skouw-Wutung at around 6 a.m., said Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Sulistyo Pudjo on Saturday.

The flag has long been seen by the Indonesian government as a symbol of rebellion. The armed group also set fire to a banner, damaged a car wash and piled wood on the streets, hampering traffic. Local officers immediately took down the Bintang Kejora flag before chasing the armed group, which had fled to PNG territory.

Jayapura Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Alfred Papare and a member of the 1701 military command (Kodim), Sgt. Major Tugino, sustained injuries after getting hit by glass debris as a result of the armed group firing at the border tower.

Alfred and Tugino were rushed to Bhayangkara Hospital and Marthen Indey Hospital, respectively. '€œAt that time, TNI-police were handling the situation,'€ Sulistyo said, adding the police were still investigating those involved in the incident.

The incident also hampered journalists who were heading to the Indonesian Consulate in Vanimo, PNG, to cover the election in the country.

Police chief Gen. Sutarman had pledged the police would crackdown on separatist groups, including by strictly enforcing a ban on flying the Bintang Kejora flag, which West Papuans often try to raise in a special ceremony every year on Dec. 1.

Meanwhile, the Indonesia-PNG border area will be closed to the public ahead of the legislative election, which will fall on Wednesday.

'€œThe border area will be closed from April 6 until April 12 due to the election in Indonesia. We have informed the Papua New Guinea government,'€ said Papua border head Suzanna Wanggai.

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