Mon, 15 May 2000

Six hurt as police, civilians clash

JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya: Four policemen and two civilians were injured in a clash on Sunday afternoon in the town of Merauke, about 600 kilometers south of here.

It occurred at about 1 p.m. local time in the Kuda Mati area.

Aloysius Renwariu of the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM) said the policemen suffered leg injuries when the locals attacked with traditional bows and arrows.

The civilians reportedly suffered minor gunshot wounds.

Coordinator of the Papua Task Force in Merauke Nikolas Yem claimed the clash was caused by an incident at 2 a.m. at a transmigration area near the town.

He said a checkpoint set up by the task force was rammed by a Kijang van whose driver refused to be inspected. A shot was fired from the vehicle as it sped away.

Nikolas said the checkpoints were set up at the request of local figures to curb late-night robberies.

Nikolas claimed that three truckloads of police then arrived at 11 a.m. and dismantled the structure. The police trucks were then blocked by locals in Merauke and the clash ensued.

Police had no comment on the incident as of Sunday evening.(eba)