26 Feb 2013

Proliferation of guns in Papua possible cause of latest violence

11:24 am on 26 February 2013

A leading researcher on West Papua says last week's fatal shootings in Puncack Jaya could be the result of the proliferation of guns in the troubled region.

Eight Indonesian soldiers and four civillians were killed in two separate shooting incidents in the remote Highlands regency, for which military chiefs have blamed the separatist OPM Free West Papua Movement.

Jim Elmslie of Sydney University's West Papua Project says it's probably the most deadly attack on military in Papua since the mid-1990s and represents a serious escalation in tensions in the region.

He says the region is more militarised than ever before and that there are many weapons in circulation.

"There's been long stories of people being able to buy weapons which originated in the military on the black market. And at stages, there have been well-grounded accusations that police or military have supplied weapons to Papuans to act on their behalf."