24 Aug 2012

Indonesian police reject reports officers torching villagers' homes

3:35 pm on 24 August 2012

The Indonesian police chief in Paniai district of Papua province has denied reports that his officers set homes of villagers on fire in their pursuit of a gunman who killed a fellow officer this week.

The Antara news agency reports that police have detained four people following the death of policeman Yohan Kasimatau in Paniai District`s capital, Enarotali, on Tuesday.

The four are reported to belong to a division of the separatist Free Papua Movement Organisation, or OPM.

Tempointeractive reports that the police chief Anthonius Diance denies that police used violence and made indiscriminate arrests.

He says police have exchanged fire with OPM members in their investigation.

A local church figure says that since police began their pursuit, residents have been too scared to venture out.

He described Enarotali as a ghost town, saying civil servants are not working, schools are closed and only police out patrolling are visible.