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Riot in Wamena, Papua Kills 10; Sparked by Child Kidnapping Rumor

24 February 2023 16:30 WIB

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Papua Police spokesperson commissioner Benny Adi Prabwo said that the death toll caused by a widespread riot in Papua Highlands' Wamena District had increased to 10 people. The riot itself was triggered by rumors related to a child kidnapper in one of the district’s villages.

"Two were victims from an attack by rioters while the other eight were the rioters," said Benny to Tempo on Friday, February 24, 2023. 

The incident first took place on Thursday, February 23, 2023, at the Sapalek village located nearby Wamena's Trans-Irian highway. Benny said that a rumor of a child kidnapper sparked the anger of locals as the yet-to-be-confirmed rumor claimed that the kidnaped victim was from a family indigenous to Papua. 

Jayawijaya Police Sector Chief commissioner Hesman S. Napitupulu led his personnel to the village to intervene and help cool down the situation, which already saw physical riots. However, police became targets of locals who threw various objects at them. 

"We received information that there was a car being held captive by the Sinakma villagers. The driver is said to be the perpetrator of a child kidnapping case. This caused an uproar," said Benny in his official statement.

Stones went flying to police personnel who arrived at the scene, which forced law enforcers to release a warning shot. But this only made things worse as rioters became more violent and even committed arson on a number of buildings that had businesses owned by migrant settlers. 

The Papuan village is currently under guard by a joint team that consists of personnel from the local military command and Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob).

FAJAR PEBRIANTO

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