JAKARTA (dpa) – Indonesia’s police chief denied Wednesday that officers had fired the shots that killed at least four protestors and wounded several others in Papua province, media reports said.
Activists and residents accused soldiers and police of shooting into a crowd during a rally in Enaratoli, the main town in Paniai district, on Monday.
Four people were killed and 11 other civilians injured, police said. Residents said five people were killed, all of whom were senior high school students in their teens.
“Police did not do it,” national police chief Sutarman was quoted as saying by Viva.co.id news website.
Armed forces chief Moeldoko also said he did know who fired shots.
“We leave it to the police to investigate,” said Moeldoko, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
Human right groups demanded an investigation.
“Amnesty International calls for a prompt, independent and impartial investigation into the killings and apparent excessive use of force by the Indonesian security forces,” the group said.
The group also called for an end to “impunity” for abuses by security forces.
“Far too many times, members of the security forces in Papua do not face prosecution or are just given a slap on the wrist for a range of human rights violations including torture and other ill-treatment, unnecessary and excessive use of force, and unlawful killings,” it said.
Papua police chief Yotje Menda told local media that the protestors were attacking a police station.
According to one resident’s account and Papuan media reports, the protest was triggered by an assault by security forces on three teenagers.
The teenagers had stopped a police jeep and told the driver to turn the headlights on, starting an argument, the reports said.
The driver later returned with some other men and assaulted the teenagers.
Resource-rich but underdeveloped Papua has been the scene of low-level separatist conflicts for decades and there have been sporadic clashes between security forces and suspected rebels.