Subject: Eleven killed in Papua as series of incidents mars voting day

The Jakarta Post

April 10, 2009

Eleven killed in Papua as series of incidents mars voting day

Papua, Jakarta

Papua was on high alert Thursday as a range of incidents, including attacks on police stations, claimed 11 lives to mar voting day in the country's easternmost province, still plagued by separatist threats.

The incidents, however, did not prevent most Papuans from voting on election day. According to National Police data, 75 percent of Papuans voted at more than 6,000 polling stations across the province.

Home Minister Mardiyanto said the polls had to be delayed in Yahukimo and Paniaki, with bad weather obstructing the delivery of polling material to the two regencies.

The disruptions began Wednesday at noon, when homemade bombs exploded under a bridge on the border between Papua and Papua New Guinea. No one was killed, but police found two unexploded bombs while sweeping the area.

On Wednesday evening, unknown assailants stabbed five ojek (motorcycle taxi) drivers in Wamena, leaving four of them dead and one in critical condition. Two hours later, a fuel storage tank at state oil company PT Pertamina's depot in Biak exploded during refilling, instantly killing a bystander.

At around 1 a.m. on Thursday, police security posts at the Skaw Wutung border between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea were attacked by unknown gunmen, with no casualties reported.

Half an hour later, about 50 men armed with homemade bombs, spears, cleavers, bows and cassowary bones attacked the Abepura Police station in Jayapura. The police shot into the crowd, killing one attacker and injuring eight others.

At daybreak, the rector's building at Cendrawasih University - about 5 kilometers from the Abepura Police station - was set ablaze by unknown people. The fire razed important documents and badly damaged one of the building's three floors, but claimed no casualties.

Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu said all the incidents, except the explosion at the Pertamina depot, were intended to disrupt the elections in Papua. He added the depot explosion was simply an accident.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said he had received a report from Papua Police indicating efforts and a conspiracy to disrupt the elections.

But National Police chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri said the attack on the Abepura Police station had nothing to do with the polls, adding it was a random attack aimed at undermining security officers.

"This was purely an act of violence committed by armed guerillas," Bambang told reporters after meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the latter's private residence in Cikeas, Bogor, to discuss the attacks.

Police have named six people as suspects in the attack and are questioning eight others as witnesses.

Later the same day, a small aircraft operated by local airline Aviastar crashed in Wamena, killing all six crew on board. The cause of the crash is currently being investigated.

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