Indonesian police evacuate residents after a shooting in Papua’s Puncak district in October 2019. A clash between police and soldiers in Mamberamo district on April 12 left three policemen dead and two wounded. (Photo: Sevianto Pakiding/AFP)
Three Indonesian policemen were killed and two others seriously injured during a clash with soldiers in Mamberamo district of Papua province.
According to a family member of one of those killed, the incident on April 12 occurred when more than a dozen police officers went to a military post in the town of Kasonaweja and confronted the soldiers after one of their colleagues was allegedly beaten by them.
The beating resulted from a heated argument between the policeman and a motorcycle taxi driver who asked the soldiers to help him, the Jakarta Post reported.
The local police chief reportedly told his men not to retaliate, saying he would resolve the issue with the local military commander. However, around 20 officers reportedly ignored him and were fired upon when they challenged the soldiers.
Poengky Indarti, from the National Police Commission, called the clash shocking. “People really need to feel Papua is safe and peaceful,” she told UCA News.
She said those involved should be prosecuted and army and police commanders need to spend more time communicating and listening to their subordinates’ complaints.
"If there is a small problem, it can be resolved immediately so that it does not escalate,” she said.
Neta Pane, head of Indonesian Police Watch, said it was a sorry state of affairs when police and soldiers were clashing with each other, especially in Papua where an insurgency has gripped the province for decades.
“Police and the military should be united so that they can cooperate in maintaining security against rebel groups,” he said.
Police and military spokesmen said the incident was being investigated.
Similar clashes between police and the military have taken place. In December last year, several policemen were injured in a clash in Maluku, while in October 2014 soldiers attacked a police station in Pirime, Lanny Jaya Regency, in Papua, injuring some officers.