Police clash with Papuan separatists in Indonesia

Indonesian security forces opened fire at a separatist flag-raising ceremony in Indonesia’s restive Papua region Thursday, according to the AFP news agency.

Thursday marked the 50th anniversary of Papua region’s claim to independence. Some 500 Papuan people watched the region’s Morning Star flag raised on a bamboo pole when police and soldiers, along with a military truck, stormed into the crowd and opened fire.

Papuan youth activist leader Markus Haluk told AFP that 5 people had been shot.

But Mimika district deputy police chief Mada Indra Laksanta denied the shootings, saying police merely fired warning shots into the air.

“No protesters were shot, we didn’t shoot into the crowd,” Laksanta told AFP. “Three police were wounded; their faces and heads were hit with rocks.”

Flag-raising ceremonies were held in a number of towns across Papua.

In the nearby town Sentani, 3,000 people gathered at the grave of independence leader Theys Eluay to commemorate Dec 1, 1961 when Papuans claim independence from Dutch colonial rule.

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