Sat, 18 Mar 2000

Kostrad troops arrive in Irian

JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya: Irianese were called upon on Friday not to worry and be afraid of the arrival of 450 Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) troops.

Local military commander Lt. Col. Susanto said the troops were brought in not to search for members of the Free Papua Movement (OPM) separatist group but to help local people carry out development programs.

The Kostrad soldiers, who were based in Tanggul district, East Java, will replace their colleagues who will return to their base in Kariango district in South Sulawesi after 13 months of service.

A local farmer in Nabire regency, Kobogau, expressed his suspicions to The Jakarta Post on Friday that the troops were intended to anticipate the Papuan Congress to be held in April.

"Our experience clearly shows that the presence of military members or the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) police results in human right violations," Kobogau said. (08/eba)