10 Apr 2009

At least six Papuans killed in violence ahead of Indonesian election

11:02 am on 10 April 2009

At least six Papuans were killed and dozens critically injured in violent clashes with Indonesian security forces ahead of yesterday's opening of polling stations for parliamentary elections.

The Papua Police Chief, Bagus Ekodanto, says more than 80 suspected rebels attacked a police post in the provincial capital, Jayapura.

Two alleged separatists died in the ensuing clash.

The Reuters news agency also reports that three people died in violence in Wamena last night and another person was killed in Nabire.

Tensions have been running high in Papua after large demonstrations in Nabire and Wamena late last week in which Papuans called for an election boycott in protest at what they see as Jakarta's neglect of their self-determination aspirations.

In police shootings following the Nabire rally, one person was killed and at least eight were seriously injured, including a ten-year old boy who remains in a critical condition.

Meanwhile, Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's party has won most seats in an election seen as a key test for the country's youthful democracy, according to a leading polling institute.

Projections by the independent Indonesian Survey Institute have the centrist Democrats winning 20.4 per cent of the votes, based on a near-complete unofficial count of ballots from 2,100 polling stations on Thursday.