Indonesian soldier killed in Papua clash

JAKARTA (AFP) – A soldier was killed in Indonesia’s Papua region yesterday during a clash with separatist protesters, officials said, with the territory gripped by unrest.

A group of police and military personnel were attacked by Papuans armed with machetes and bows and arrows, Papua military spokesman Eko Daryanto said.

One soldier was killed with several more injured during the clash during a rally of more than 1,000 people in the district of Deiyai, he added.

“We don’t know about other victims right now,” Daryanto told AFP.

“The situation is still very unclear because of the communication problem,” said National Police Chief Dedi Prasetyo.

Papuans take part in a rally in front of the presidential palace and army headquarters in Jakarta. PHOTO: AFP

“We’re still trying to confirm the reports.”

Last week, riots and demonstrations brought several Papuan cities to a standstill, as buildings were torched and street battles broke out between police and protesters.

Indonesia sent in 1,200 extra police and military to Papua as tensions soared.

The riots appear to have been triggered by the arrest of dozens of Papuan students in Java.

Last week, the Indonesian government moved to shut down Internet services in the region, saying it was trying to stop a stream of offensive and racist online posts that it feared would spark more violent protests.

But critics slammed the move as a threat to free speech.