29 May 2017

Indonesian police deny bible-burning claim over unrest

2:54 pm on 29 May 2017

Indonesian police have dismissed reports that unrest last Thursday in Jayapura, Papua province, was sparked by soldiers burning bibles.

Indonesian police at a demonstration in the Papuan region.

Indonesian police at a demonstration in the Papuan region. Photo: Supplied/ Whens Tebay

Five people were injured after hundreds staged an angry protest in Jayapura's Abepura district

Soldiers managing a local facility had burnt a number of materials as part of what police say was a routine clean-up.

When they heard that that bibles and religious texts were among the books being burnt, an angry mob, including local members of the Church of Zion, gathered near the premises to protest, blocking the main road.

In the ensuing melee, the mob began throwing rocks and other objects at security forces, while police tried to disperse people.

Watch mobile video of soldiers approaching the scene

Among the chaos, two police personnel were injured and three civilians were shot while soldiers, aided by an armoured vehicle, swept in to disband the mob.

The Jayapura City Police Chief, Tober Sirait, was one of the victims of rock throwing, according to local media reports.

A police statement said members of the public worked with police to help the police chief and his injured assistant to safety and then to the Bhayangkara Polda Papua Hospital.

In media comments following the attack, police suggested individuals stirred the unrest by spreading irresponsible rumours on social media about the soldiers' actions.

A police spokesman said there were no burning of bibles, but rather a pile of paper in the trash bin.

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