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JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian police opened fire on indigenous Papuan villagers, killing one person and wounding several others, including two children, during a confrontation that erupted after workers at a company in the remote area refused to take a dying villager to a hospital.
The parliament of the Deiyai area in easternmost Papua has called for the arrest of officers involved in the shooting Tuesday and the withdrawal of the mobile brigade, a police paramilitary unit.
The district chief, Fransiskus Bobii, said Wednesday that one person was killed and that he was trying to calm tensions between police and villagers.
A police report said a 28-year-old man suffered multiple bullet wounds and died instantly. It said four others were wounded but Santon Tekege, a Catholic priest in Deiyai, and a villager who said he witnessed the shooting, Elias Pakage, put the number of wounded at seven including two children. Accounts of the children's ages differed.
"There were no warning shots at all," said Pakage. "Officers immediately fired on the unarmed villagers."
Indonesia maintains a significant police and military presence in the volatile provinces of Papua and West Papua, a mineral-rich region where a decades-long separatist movement simmers and the predominantly Christian indigenous people resent an influx of Muslim Indonesians, who now outnumber them.
Based on information from police and Pakage, events spiraled into conflict after the manager of a company doing construction work in the area refused to allow an unconscious villager to be driven to a hospital about an hour away, fearing blame if the man died during the journey.
Hours later, with the man apparently dead, villagers confronted the workers, kidnapping one, police said. Police went to the village, where they were attacked with rocks and arrows and responded with warning shots, the police statement said, without explaining the death and injuries.
Pakage disputed other key elements of the police statement.
"We did not kidnap any worker, it's not true, it's only the reason made by them to attack us," he said.
Village youth threw rocks at police but no arrows were used, while one frightened worker fled the company site and was in the village but was well treated and later returned to the company, Pakage said.
Indonesia restricts journalists from reporting from its two easternmost provinces, particularly foreign reporters, despite President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's announcement in 2015 that the media were free to travel there.
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