JAKARTA (Reuters) - At least four people were killed in Indonesia’s volatile Papua region in clashes between protesters and security forces on Monday, according to the police and the chief security affairs minister.
A protest over the alleged abuse of a child turned violent in the capital of Paniai district, Enarotali, early on Monday with the police opening fire after being attacked by protesters.
“According to the chief of police, there were a bunch of people fighting the authorities,” said chief security affairs minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno. “The authorities defended themselves. They (the protesters) were warned.”
Papua police spokesman Sulistyo Pudjo Haryanto told Reuters four people had been killed in the clashes. The Jakarta Globe said up to six people were killed and 26 injured.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who took office in late October, was informed of the incident by police. The chief of the army and vice police chief are expected to arrive at the town, which is located in a remote area, on Tuesday.
Indonesia’s Papua, which is home to one of the world’s biggest copper mines, run by Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc, has a long history of violent civil unrest.
A low-level insurgency for independence has simmered on Indonesia’s easternmost island for decades and the new president has pledged more equitable growth in the area.
Reporting by Sam Wanda, Dennys Kapa and the Jakarta; Writing by Michael Taylor; Editing by Catherine Evans