Dozens arrested after violent Papua riots: police

Jakarta (AFP) –


Dozens have been arrested over rioting in the capital of Indonesia's Papua region, police said Sunday, following nearly two weeks of mass protests in the easternmost territory of the Southeast Asian archipelago.

The announcement came as Indonesia said it would deploy some 2,500 more police and troops to Papua, adding to about 1,200 personnel it had already sent after unrest sparked by anger over racism and calls for independence.

On Thursday, more than a thousand demonstrators hurled stones and set fire to shops and an assembly building in the provincial capital Jayapura.

That came a day after a deadly clash in another part of the island region, which shares a border with independent Papua New Guinea.

Police said Sunday they had rounded up several dozen people who had taken part in the riots and charged 28 of them over looting and carrying weapons.

"They're now in jail pending further investigation," said Papua police spokesman Ahmad Kamal.

Two students were also arrested in Indonesia's capital Jakarta at the weekend for alleged crimes against state security, including owning clothing with the image of Papua's banned flag.

This week, violence flared in remote Deiyai, where a clash between protesters and Indonesian security forces left at least one soldier and two demonstrators dead, according to officials.

There have been unconfirmed reports that security forces gunned down six protesters.

The unrest across Papua appears to have been triggered by the mid-August arrest of dozens of Papuan students in Java, who were also racially abused.

Jakarta took control of the former Dutch colony in the 1960s after an independence referendum widely viewed as a sham.

The impoverished region has been the scene of a low-level insurgency against Indonesia's rule for decades.