September 16, 2010
Jakarta. The military deployed soldiers across Manokwari, West Papua, on Thursday as thousands of residents stayed on the streets to protest the killing of two men by police a day earlier. A woman was also severely injured in the shooting that followed a dispute over a traffic accident.
Lt. Col. Edward Sitorus, the district military commander in Manokwari, said soldiers had been deployed around vital installations and at locations where crowds had been gathering.
“Our soldiers are helping the police secure Manokwari, particularly the heart of the city, crowded areas and vital installations, as requested by the Manokwari Police,” Edward said.
“This has nothing to do with the demand by residents that all Brimob [the National Police’s Mobile Brigade] officers be pulled out of Manokwari,” he said. “We have not taken over security of the city. We are just assisting the police.”
Adj. Sr. Comr. Bambang Ricky, chief of the Manokwari Police, said officers had been forced to fire their weapons in self-defense on Wednesday when dozens of residents became violent after a motorist fled the scene of an accident on Jalan Esau Sesa and headed for the Brimob headquarters in Manokwari.
He said that mobs armed with knives and spears blocked roads and threw stones at Brimob officers who arrived at the scene of the accident to try and control the angry crowds.
The rioters used their weapons to wound two Brimob officers, Bambang said.
“The crowds had become violent. They had bows and arrows, axes and blocks of wood,” he said.
“When our Brimob officers tried to calm them down, they were attacked. Brig. Amir was struck in the head by residents, while Brig. Ismail was shot in the leg with an arrow.”
Bambang said that other Brimob officers, upon learning of the violence, proceeded to conduct a number of raids to locate those responsible for wounding their fellow officers.
“While they were conducting the raids, they fired [their weapons], but the crowds [didn’t disperse] and continued to riot,” he said.
“So police opened fire again. A resident named Naftalia Kuan was shot in the leg. In all, I cannot specify how many shots were fired into the crowds.”
Residents confirmed that Naftalia had been shot in the leg, but they said his head was also bloody and blood was oozing from his ear. He was taken to Manokwari General Hospital, but died there.
Residents later brought the body of Naftalia to Manokwari Police headquarters to demand an explanation.
A woman, identified as Antomina Kuan, also suffered a gunshot wound and remains in critical condition at the hospital.
The body of another protester, Septi Kuan, was only found on Thursday morning.
Earlier this month, officers killed seven people in Buol, Central Sulawesi, after residents attacked a police station. They were angered by the death of a local man who was being held by police for traffic violations.
At least 32 officers have been questioned over the violence in Buol on Sept. 2.
During the riot, which left a total of up to 34 people injured, enraged villagers threw Molotov cocktails and stones at the police station, wounding 19 officers. Police then fired into the crowd.
Bambang, the Manokwari Police chief, said that seven Brimob officers were being questioned as part of an internal investigation into the violence.
“Among them are those who conducted raids and opened fire on the crowds on September 15,” Bambang said.
“So far we believe that our officers followed procedure. They were attempting to take control of the situation and fired warning shots. Those shots were ignored by the mob. Then, they opened fire to [stop the rioters],” he said.
“I am sure what they did was in accordance with procedure. But an investigation needs to be conducted to legally clarify matters,” Bambang added.