29 May 2009

TNI views Papua airport seizure as police matter

3:20 pm on 29 May 2009

The National Chief of Indonesia's military, or TNI, says the military will not take short-shrift action against the gunmen from the separatist Free Papua Organisation, or OPM, who have been occupying Kaisiepo airport since May the 19th.

The Antara news agency quotes General Djoko Santoso as saying the TNI won't take on the gunmen because there are also civilians involved and the military runs the risk of coming under the international spotlight.

He says the TNI has coordinated with Papua police to use a persuasive approach to the OPM gunmen, explaining that the deadline given to the group to leave the airport would entirely depend on the police.

Meanwhile, the Papua Police chief Inspector General Bagus Ekodanto says he has deployed extra police to the Membramo Raya District where the occupation is taking place.

Inspector General Bagus says the police had coordinated with the local church and community figures to negotiate with the gunmen.

He says if negotiations fail, the Papua police will manage to retrieve the airport and normalise the situation.