30 Apr 2009

Military riot spills over in Papua capital

3:11 pm on 30 April 2009

Civilians have been beaten around the main Indonesian military base in the provincial capital of Papua as soldiers went on a violent rampage.

Wednesday's violence stemmed from a protest by members of the 751 Sentani Battalion when their Commander decided that soldiers themselves would have to provide funds for the burial of a fellow soldier in Nabire.

The soldiers felt that the military should pay for the burial and their protest spiralled out of control as gun fire rang out.

Various media reports claim that there were between 100 and 1,000 soldiers rioting.

A local journalist with the Antara news agency, Oka Bharata, says he and three other journalists who were near the compound were accosted by soldiers when the violence from within began to spill outside.

"I saw with my own eyes... it's really bad. Everybody run. And they keep beating people who walk across in front of their base. And maybe because they're angry, [they were] searching everybody who identifies as a journalist."

Oka Bharata in Jayapura