11 Apr 2003

Papua religious leaders calls on Indonesian military to spare civilians in Wamena probe

3:08 pm on 11 April 2003

Papuan religious leaders have called on the Indonesian government not to use last week's theft of weapons from a military base as a reason to launch further military operations.

The call was made by leaders from various faiths in response to the break-in in Wamena in which two soldiers and a civilian were killed and 29 rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition stolen.

The Indonesian military says it believes its own soldiers may have been involved in the attack.

According to the Jakarta Post newspaper, the church leaders say the military should not be suspicious of locals, saying previous military operations claimed many civilian lives in the past.

The Indonesian military has deployed 144 soldiers of two special forces to Wamena.