2 May 2003

Reports say thousands of Papuans displaced by Indonesian military campaign

4:06 pm on 2 May 2003

Unconfirmed reports from the Indonesian province of Papua says a military operation against suspected rebels in the highlands has forced an estimated 10-thousand people to flee their homes.

Huuman rights groups quote sources as saying the military's campaign in the highlands has also led to many homes being burnt.

The reports claim that the the soldiers also destroyed crops and killed livestock.

They say a Papua man on a list of suspects has been tortured after his arrest.

There have been clashes between suspected separatist rebels of the Free Papua Organisation and special forces at Koyawage forest in the Tiom area of the Central Highlands.

The soldiers are still searching for eight guns which were among 29 firearms stolen in a raid on a military armoury in the town of Wamena a month ago during which two soldiers and a suspected rebel were killed.