Arson, Gunshots Following Death of Papua Activist
Banjir Ambarita & SP/Robert Isidorus
A police outpost in Papua was set on fire on Sunday night, following the death of a Papuan activist who allegedly tried to attack police earlier that day.
Residents, who witnessed the incident but declined to be identified, said a police post in Wouma, in the town of Wamena in the central highland district of Jayawijaya, was set on fire at around 10:25 p.m. on Sunday.
They said the police post was empty at the time because a roll call was being held in the Wamena town police headquarters. The residents said some 20 men came to the post, pelted it and once they discovered it was empty they set it on fire.
Police, who are questioning around 30 witnesses, used their firearms to disband the attackers after they arrived at the scene.
“Residents around the police post were also evacuated to the police headquarters and the local military dormitory until the situation had really returned conducive,” one of the residents said, adding that the exchange of shots was still going around midnight.
Adj. Sr. Comr, I Gede Sumerta Jaya, the spokesman for the Papua Police, said on Monday that the situation in Wamena was under control.
“But we remain alert,” he said, declining to provide any further details as the headquarters were still coordinating with the local district police.
Sumerta speculated that the violence was tied to the death of a suspect from an attack on the police and the district legislative council building earlier that day.
He said that at around 9 a.m. on Sunday, police received a report that Hubertus Mabel — a suspect in the bombing of the Jayawijaya district legislative office and in the attack on the Pirime subdistrict police station which left three officers dead — was in Abusak village, in the subdistrict of Kurulu near Wamena.
Two members of a special police unit went to Abusak, accompanied by MJ, a suspect who had been arrested for possession of ammunition. In Abusak, MJ called Hubertus on the telephone and demanded he meet him on the side of the main highway.
Hubertus agreed but arrived with four other people, who were all carrying machetes.
Police then ordered them to lay down on the ground but Hubertus resisted the order.
“He angrily tried to attack and rob the firearm carried by the personnel so that a scuffle developed and the firearm almost got taken. One of the special team members then shot him in the foot in order to immobilize him,” Sumerta said.
The four others were arrested without resistance while Hubertus was rushed to a hospital in Wamena.
“But because he lost a lot of blood, Hubertus Mabel could not be saved,” Sumerta said.
Terianus Satto, who claims to be the head of the general staff of the National Freedom Soldiers of the Free Papua Organization (OPM), said in a short message on Monday that a national mourning period had been declared following the death of Hubertus, who he identified as a member of the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB).