27 Aug 2003

Agitators behind tribal violence in Indonesia's Papua

4:21 pm on 27 August 2003

A Catholic priest working in the Papuan Highlands town of Timika in Indonesia, says he believes the eruption of violence in the town this week is the work of provocateurs.

Papuan tribal groups have been fighting for several days in Timika leaving

three people dead and around 40 wounded.

Fr Bert Hagendoorn, who is working with a organisation combatting HIV/AIDs in the Highlands, says the conflict is over the push by Jakarta to to split Papua into 3 provinces.

He says most Papuans in Timika oppose the plan, seeing it as a move to destroy the unity of the province, but he says a small group, encouraged by outside agitators supports Jakarta.

Fr Hagendoorn says the tribespeople have been fighting with bows and arrows and throwing stones, while police have done little to stop it.