Subject: Dozens Wounded in Kupang Clash
6 Injured as Former East Timorese Refugees Brawl With Residents in
The Jakarta Globe
December 21, 2009
6 Injured as Former East Timorese Refugees Brawl With Residents in Kupang
by Era Poke
Six people were reportedly injured, including two critically, as former East Timorese refugees and local residents in Central Kupan subdistrict, East Nusa Tenggara, brawled on Sunday.
The incident involved former refugees now living in the Griya Permai housing complex and residents of Oebelo ward, according to local authorities.
The clash took place this afternoon. Several houses were burned down, including that of village head Peter Sinlae and other local residents," Central Kupang subdistrict head Ferry Manafe told the Jakarta Globe.
Authorities are investigating the cause of the clash, but some residents suggested it may have been triggered by a misunderstanding between several young men from Pulitie village in Oebelo and a former refugee.
State news agency Antara reported that some young men from Pulitie were directing traffic near a road construction project just outside their village when they stopped a car driven by a former East Timorese refugee who was heading to Griya Permai, also in Oebelo.
Enraged by being stopped, the former refugee reportedly told his friends and family in Griya Permai about the incident, which precipitated the attack.
However, other residents told Vivanews.com that the brawl was preceded by a fight between a local resident and a former refugee.
The two were involved in a fight on Sunday afternoon, but after the two were separated they went to their respective groups and soon after the brawls started," a local resident, identified as Ekarno, told the news portal.
Several houses in Oebelo were burned down during the violence and authorities blocked off the Trans Timor road to Atambua to prevent the conflict from spreading to other parts of the subdistrict.
All cars using the Trans Timor route [linking provincial capital Kupang and Atambua] are now being checked to prevent the clash from spreading," Manafe said. "Security personnel are also on alert now, but I'm not sure if we'll impose a curfew."
He added that he had been instructed by Kupang district head Ayub Titu Eki to assist police and military personnel in dealing with the incident.
At least six people were taken to the Oesao and Tarus community health centers with serious injuries. Two were reported to be in critical condition.
Manafe identified the two as former East Timorese refugees Valentino and Ignatio.
One dump truck was also reportedly burned by the former East Timorese refugees.
Officers from the Kupang Police and East Nusa Tenggara bomb squad were deployed to the location to break up the clash.
Police also sent in water cannons to help extinguish the fires that gutted several houses.
Security officials arrested several former East Timorese refugees suspected of being responsible for setting the fires. Their identities were not immediately known.
As of Sunday evening, there was still a heavy police presence at the scene of the clash and officers were continuing to monitor traffic on the Trans Timor road.
Following the United Nations-sponsored referendum in August 1999, in which East Timorese overwhelmingly voted to break away from Indonesia after 24 years of occupation, more than 100,000 pro-Indonesia East Timorese fled to Atambau and provincial capital Kupang, where most lived in squalid makeshift shelters.
While most of them have since returned to East Timor, thousands chose to be relocated to other parts of Indonesia, including the Griya Permai residential area.