Police Open Fire on Papuan Protesters: Witnesses

TIMIKA ~ Four people were injured when Indonesian police opened fire on hundreds of people in Papua province during a protest against alleged police violence.

Officers began shooting when about 300 angry residents armed with homemade guns, machetes and wooden stakes tried on Tuesday to break into a police post in Timika, on the southern coast of the rugged eastern territory, a reporter with the AFP newswire witnessed.

At least four people were shot in the legs during the clash, in which migrants from the Kei islands in the neighboring province of Maluku fired homemade guns at police in riot gear.

Hundreds of protesters raged through the city after the shooting. They smashed windows at a journalist’s house before being forced back into their neighborhood by police.

Protesters threatened the journalist, Husein, with further violence if he reported on the day’s unrest, he told AFP.

The violence was fuelled by anger over the death earlier Tuesday of Timika resident Simor Fader, also from Kei, who was allegedly shot by police on Sunday during a scuffle in a bar.

“Police should investigate this shooting incident,” a protester told AFP.

Timika police chief Godhelp Mansnembra has denied police shot Fader and has launched an investigation.

The local police commander of the city’s Mimika Baru neighborhood, Jasim Hoda, said “a number” of protesters had been taken into custody for questioning.

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