23 Mar 2009

Indonesian security forces step up hunt for OPM leader in Papua

9:41 pm on 23 March 2009

Indonesian military troops have reportedly launched an operation in Papua's Puncak Jaya district to hunt down the leading West Papuan separatist leader.

Puncak Jaya is the reported stronghold of the Free West Papua Movement, or OPM, which has been waging a sporadic insurgency against Indonesian security forces for decades.

Police say at least three Indonesians, including a soldier, have been killed in suspected attacks by the OPM in the district in the past month.

It has led to police offering cash rewards for public help in the capture of the OPM leader Goliat Tabuni.

Victor Yeimo of the West Papua National Committee, which is affiliated with the OPM, says the Indonesian military has poured hundreds more troops into Puncak Jaya where they are terrorising West Papuans.

"Military, until now, they've burnt all West Papuan houses or West Papuan gardens, pigs, etcetera. They seek for Goliat Tabuni and... and many people in Puncak Jaya many feel society has gone to the hunted... so they've gone to the jungle. They cannot eat and many of them have died."

Victor Yeimo