23 Aug 2006

Australian magazine warns of possible conflict on PNG/Papua border

6:28 pm on 23 August 2006

An Australian news magazine says Australia could been dragged into a conflict with Indonesia through Jakarta's secret operations on the Papua New Guinea border.

Journalist Paul Daley, writing in the Bulletin, says Indonesia's attempts to suppress Papuan rebels could easily trigger a firefight with PNG forces, and Australia could be dragged into a conflict through a defence agreement signed in 1987.

He says troops from Indonesia's special forces, Kopassus, are operating secretly and with virtual impunity on both sides of the border, as they track down and kill Papua's OPM guerillas.

Mr Daley says some Kopassus personnel and agents from Indonesia's state intelligence agency, the Badan Intelignen Negara, are so well established in PNG that they virtually run some towns.

He says there are also claims that the Indonesian fishermen apprehended inside PNG waters two weeks ago were plainclothes Kopassus agents.

One of the fisherman was shot dead by PNG soldiers.

Mr Daley says the appointment of Major General Zamroni, the former commander of anti-terrorist forces in Kopassus, as the new head of military operations in Papua, shows that the country's elected leaders are not in control of the military.