Papua police demand release of 1,300 civilian hostages

Timika, Papua (ANTARA News) - Inspector General Boy Rafli Amar, chief of the Papua Provincial Police, has demanded an armed criminal group (KKB) to release some 1,300 civilians that it had taken hostages in Banti and Kimbeli kampongs, Tembagapura sub-district, Mimika District, Papua Province, since more than two weeks ago.

The Papua Police had asked the help of prominent traditional and religious figures to persuade the group to release the hostages, or to allow anyone wanting to go out of the villages for medical treatment and to get food, Amar told the press here on Thursday.

"The people there are currently oppressed and intimidated because the group has banned them from leaving their villages. Indeed, they are not being held in one room, but they are very much oppressed. Communication is also restricted," he stated.

Amar described the hostage-taking incident as a violation of human rights because the villagers have been intimidated and held at gun point.

Some 150 babies and infants are facing food shortage because their mothers could no longer breastfeed them. Some villagers have fallen ill as food stock is depleting.

Since late October 2017, Waa-Banti Hospital, run by Amungme and Kamoro Community Development Institution, has ceased operations.

Doctors, nurses, and other paramedics of the Waa-Banti Hospital had earlier been moved to safer area following a gun shooting incident committed by the group, targeting the hospitals ambulance.

Amar hoped that the group would allow everyone being taken hostages to leave their villages, and the police would send vehicles to pick them up.

So far, the group had allowed just two persons to leave the village, namely a pregnant woman who was about to deliver a baby, and a 51-year-old traditional miner from Blitar, East Java, who is seriously ill.

The Police and the Tembagapura sub-district administration have provided food in Tembagapura police office, but the armed criminal group has prevented no any villager from picking up the food.

Several villagers, in fact, managed to escape and collect the food, but the group members later seized the food.

Source: ANTARA News

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