Police from the mobile brigade unit (Brimob) reportedly shot five civilians in Paniai, Papua on Tuesday evening — one victim is dead and four are said to be critically injured.
The shooting took place during a brawl between the five men and three Brimob officers at a billiard-hall near a traditional gold mining site in Nomowodide village, Paniai.
The civilians include Melianus Kegepe, who has died, Lukas Kegepe, Amos Kegepe and Alpius Kegepe. The fifth man has yet to be identified.
Paniai Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Anton Diance said the victims were in critical condition and would be flown to the neighboring district of Nabire.
“We’re awaiting the plane to evacuate the critically-injured victims to a hospital in Nabire,” he said.
Anton made it clear the three Brimob officers — identified as First Brig. Ferianto Pala, Second Brig. Agus and Second Brig. Edi — were responsible for the shooting, saying the officers were forced to retaliate when the men attacked them.
Anton explained that the incident began when the five civilians arrived at the billiard-hall owned by a local resident. All the tables were occupied, but the five men reportedly forced their way onto a table while yelling and threatening the owner, who then reported them to officers at a nearby Brimob post. The officers arrived shortly after.
“But, suddenly one of them hit Ferianto very hard with a billiard que, causing the officer to fall — then the five tried to grab his weapon,” Anton said. Second Brig. Edi shot one of the men, when another man pulled out a knife. Edi fired another shot, according to Anton.
“It became chaotic then,” Anton said.”We suspect that this incident was planned, to provoke the officers. We’ve instructed our officers around the location to control their emotions, and to not easily fire their weapons.” he added.