Tue, 25 Feb 2003

Kopassus ends Papua duty

JAYAPURA, Papua: Some 250 soldiers of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) left Papua on Monday after around 12 months of duty in the troubled province.

A farewell ceremony was led by Trikora regional military chief Maj. Gen. Mahidin Simbolon at the Porasko seaport in the provincial capital of Jayapura.

Mahidin said no replacement troops would be sent to the province as security had greatly improved.

He denied speculation that the withdrawal of Kopassus troops in the area was due to resistance by locals.

"It is nothing to do with opposition from local people, but is based merely on the consideration that security is conducive now," he added.

Seven Kopassus members are currently standing trial for killing Papua proindependence leader Theys Hiyo Eluay in November 2001. -- JP