JAKARTA: Indonesian security forces tightened security in the town of Wamena in the easternmost region of Papua, after nine people were killed during a riot triggered by rumours a child had been kidnapped, an official said on Friday.
More than 200 security personnel, including police and the military, had been deployed to contain the situation after 14 people had also been hurt in Thursday’s riot, police said.
The situation remained tense, but there had been no further violence, Papua province police spokesperson Ignatius Benny Ady Prabowo said by telephone.
The riot had started after locals, angered by rumours about a child kidnapping, started throwing rocks at Wamena police station where a man accused of abducting a six-year-old was detained, he said.
Police summoned the child’s parents to clarify that she was safe, but that failed to stem the violence and other buildings were set ablaze in the area, he added.
Security forces responded by opening fire, killing nine people and wounding 14, said Prabowo.
Tensions have been running high in Papua, which is one of the poorest, most underdeveloped parts of the country, after separatist rebels abducted a New Zealand pilot.
The Indonesian military has said it was prepared to conduct a “law enforcement operation” as a last resort to free the pilot if negotiations failed to secure his release.
Separatists have waged a low-level fight for independence since the resource-rich region, once governed by the Netherlands, was brought under Indonesian control following a controversial UN backed referendum in 1969.