Police puts Wamena riot death toll at 23

So far, the death toll has reached 23 and there are 77 people who sustained injuries

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The death toll after a violent rally staged by native Papuan students in Wamena, Jayawijaya District's capital city, Papua, Monday, rose from 17 to 23, National Police Spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said in Jakarta Tuesday. The death toll and those who were injured in the riot could, in all likelihood, increase because the security personnel were continuing their efforts to trace residents who might still be trapped in buildings that rioters set on fire Monday, Prasetyo said.

"So far, the death toll has reached 23 and there are 77 people who sustained injuries," he said, adding that the wounded were rushed to Wamena's public hospital for treatment.

The masterminds of this deadly riot are allegedly members of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB).

Meanwhile, among the dead and the wounded were non-native Papuans who had been assaulted by rioters brandishing machetes and arrows.

On Tuesday, military and police personnel evacuated residents who were trapped in their homes and kiosks that the rioters had set ablaze.

Commander of the 1702/Jayawijaya District Military Command Lt. Col. Candra Dianto pointed to a gun battle between the Indonesian security personnel and a group of armed separatists around the Pasar Baru area 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 had been deployed in Wamena.

The violence might have been fueled by the spread of hoaxes through social media platforms that had angered Wamena's residents, Papua Police Chief Inspector General Rudolf A. Rodja said while speaking in connection with the rioting

"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 people's houses and the Jayawijaya district office, as well as the torching of several motorcycles.

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

Indonesian police have accused Benny Wenda, a member of the West Papua movement separatist group for being involved in the spreading of fake news to instigate native Papuans. (INE)

Source: ANTARA News

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