Soldiers Mutiny in Papua: AFP

SENTANI ~ About 200 Indonesian soldiers mutinied and fired shots into the air in politically sensitive eastern Papua region on Wednesday, a correspondent for the AFP newswire witnessed.

Soldiers from an army battalion based near Papua provincial capital Jayapura’s main airport stormed their commander’s office compound, smashing windows and stealing rifles in an apparent dispute over the costs of transporting a dead comrade’s body.

Soldiers wielding sticks and rifles guarded the edges of the compound, firing into the air and turning away residents and journalists who tried to approach.

An adjutant to Papua military commander, Armin Yusri Nasution, refused to comment on the incident when contacted by AFP.

It was unclear if the battalion commander was being held by the soldiers or was somewhere else when the mutiny occurred.

Papua police commander Bagus Eko Danto said police had not intervened to defuse the mutiny.

“This is inside 751 Battalion, so if there is no invitation to handle this then I can’t go there,” Danto said.

Nasution has since arrived on site and situation is “conducive,” local media quoted Papua’s police spokesman Nurhabri as saying.

“The situation is now conducive… No civilian has been hurt,” he added.

Papua, a vast, resource-rich region, sits on the western end of New Guinea island and has seen a low-level insurgency by armed rebels since its incorporation into Indonesia in the 1960s.

The region is off-limits to foreign journalists without rare government permission.

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