Wamena, Papua (ANTARA) - A violent rally staged by native Papuan students in Wamena, Jayawijaya District’s capital city, Papua, Monday, claimed the lives of no less than 16 non-native Papuans and one native Papuan resident, a military officer stated.

"One of the dead victims was brought home by his family, while 16 bodies are yet kept at a local public hospital mortuary," Commander of the 1702/Jayawijaya District Military Command Lt Col Candra Dianto stated.

A total of 66 other residents suffered injuries during the rioting following assault by the rioters brandishing machetes and arrows. The wounded were then rushed to the local public hospital for receiving medical treatment, he had informed journalists in Wamena on Monday (Sept 23).

On Tuesday, military and police personnel will trace and evacuate other residents that may have still been trapped in their houses and kiosks that the brutal rioters had set ablaze when they ran amok.

Dianto also pointed to a gun battle between the Indonesian security personnel and a group of armed separatists around the Pasar Baru area on Monday afternoon.

The armed rebels might have used three guns and rifles. Presently, 1,300 military and police personnel are stationed in Jayawijaya District.

As part of the efforts to restore law and order, the security personnel will conduct patrolling at night, he remarked, adding that some 100 additional troops were deployed in Wamena.

Speaking in connection with this Wamena rioting, Papua Police Chief Inspector General Rudolf A. Rodja believes that the violence might have been fueled by the spread of hoaxes through social media platforms that had triggered public ire among Wamena’s residents.

"We are on the lookout for those creating and spreading fake news," he noted.

The riot that erupted in Wamena resulted in civilian deaths as well as damage to several properties, including the people's houses and Jayawijaya district office, as well as several motorcycles being torched.

According to several local media reports, the Wamena riot was instigated by hoaxes pertaining to a teacher's racist slur against native Papuan students.

The Indonesian police have exposed the involvement of Benny Wenda, a member of the West Papua movement separatist group, in the premeditated spread of fake news to instigate an act of solidarity among native Papuans. Related news: Police expose Benny Wenda's involvement in Wamena's lethal riot
Related news: Indonesian police examine link between violence in Wamena and Jayapura


Translator: Marius FY, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Suharto
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