At least a dozen people have been shot in a string of bloody incidents in Indonesia’s Papua province.
While Indonesian officials blame Papuan separatists, local activists say the security forces themselves are responsible.
In the latest incident, soldiers are accused of going on a shooting spree at Wamena in the Baliem Valley.
The unrest began when two soldiers driving on the outskirts of town ran over a young boy and killed him on Wednesday.
The villagers then stabbed one of the soldiers to death.
The local military spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Ali Hamdan Bogra, says other soldiers from the Brigade became so angry at the stabbing they left their barracks and headed into town.
It seems clear they were seeking revenge. But Lt Colonel Bogra says senior officers stopped them and calmed them down.
Local activists say the soldiers, in fact, killed at least one person, who was buried yesterday. They may have killed others, because activists say several people who were wounded have disappeared.
“Almost all members of the battalion came down and started shooting whoever they saw,” activist Sebby Sambon said.
“They also burned our traditional houses. The military and police see us as a primitive people, they don’t think we are human, they think we are animals and they can shoot us like animals.”
Activists have also released a large number of unconfirmed photographs, which show Papuans suffering gunshot wounds and houses going up in flames.
They say members of the Australian-trained counter terrorism unit, Detachment 88, were working in support of the soldiers, as well as the notorious Mobile Brigade riot squad.
A local priest, Sofyan Yoman, says the authorities should have simply charged the villagers responsible.
“Why did the soldiers burn down the homes of the common people.. and stab them with their bayonets? That’s not protecting us, that’s murder,” he said.
National police said the military had been involved.
“Following the road accident soldiers from the local military arrived in two trucks and took revenge by firing gunshots toward local residents and setting a number of houses on fire,” national police spokesman Saud Usman Nasution told AFP.
“The trouble then spread to the city centre where a number of shops and houses were also damaged by gunshots.”
However, Lt Colonel Bogra denies any military role in the shootings and says the villagers burned the homes and tried to blame the military.
“We didn’t burn people’s houses. It’s impossible. We’re soldiers, we don’t do that,” he said.