Fighting Drags On in Papua’s Mulia Subdistrict as Residents Suffer Effects

By Banjir Ambarita on 01:36 pm Jan 27, 2014
Category News

Members of the separatist Free Papua Organization (OPM) appeared in front of media in the jungles of Papua on July 25, 2009. (AFP Photo / Banjir Ambarita)

Jayapura. Local residents in the Mulia subdistrict of Puncak Jaya, Papua, have yet to resume their normal activities due to an ongoing firefight in the area between forces from the Indonesian Military, or TNI, and members of the separatist Free Papua Organization, known as the OPM.

“The situation in Puncak Jaya is uncertain; the people are in a state of panic because of a shooting in Kota Mulia,” Puron Morbinak, a resident of Mulia, said in a text message to the Jakarta Globe.

“People in the villages of Kulirik, Dondobaga, Talileme, Karubateand Yalingga are terrified and they’re scared of going to church.

“Members of the military and the National Police have been operating in the area up until Sunday, making the shooting unavoidable,” he added.

Puron said none of the local leaders in Mulia had acted on the issue, creating further panic among residents.

“This has been going on for weeks, [but] no leaders such as the district chief, deputy district chief, local council speaker or regional secretary [have responded]. The head of the church is also not present. The people are without a leader and are all over the place,” he said.

“This issue should be handled seriously, so that no civilians fall victim. The media is closed; nothing that’s happening in Puncak Jaya is known anywhere else in the country or in the international community.”

Puron said that residents were still unclear about whether the shooting had resulted in fatalities. “Because the shooting is still ongoing, the people are too afraid to leave their homes,” he said.

Another resident, Melianus Telenggen, said two local residents’ houses have been torched during the fighting.

Sr. Comr. Pujo Sulistyo, a spokesman for the Papua Police, declined to confirm whether there was fighting in Puncak Jaya; Col. Lismer Lumbang Siantar, a spokesman for the Cendrawasih Military Command, which oversees the TNI’s operations in Papua and West Papua provinces, did not respond to queries.

Antara quoted the Cendrawasih commander, Maj. Gen. Christian Zebua, as saying a soldier had been shot and killed by an armed group. The incident occurred after soldiers shot and killed a gunman and seized his firearm in Pintu Angin, Mulia.