11 Apr 2006

Head of Papuan Baptist church disputes reports of gunfire exchange

3:47 pm on 11 April 2006

The head of the Papua Baptist Church says reports of gunfire exchange between Indonesian soldiers and suspected Papuan separatists are fabricated.

Reports from Indonesia's military say two soldiers and two Papuan attackers were killed yesterday in an exchange of gunfire 70 kilometres from the provincial capital, Jayapura.

However, the Reverend Socrataz Sofyan Yoman says Indonesia is in the habit of fabricating such reports to justify to other countries its military escalation in the province.

He says Papuans do not have much access to guns.

"This is impossible, that civilians, Papuans, they would attack the military office. They say that with their bows and arrows and spears, they attacked the military post. It is very, very impossible and they are big lies, made internationally by Indonesia themselves."

The Reverend Yoman says recent attempts at discussion between Papuan leaders and Indonesian representatives in a bid to stop rising tensions in the province proved fruitless, with Jakarta unwilling to negotiate.