Protesters torched buildings in the capital of Indonesia’s Papua province, authorities on Thursday said, as communications blackouts imposed by the government to stem unrest in the region extended to phone services and electricity.
The rioting in Jayapura came after clashes between security forces and protesters in Deiyai district – in the same province but some 450 kilometres away – killed a soldier and two civilians on Wednesday.
The anti-government protests that began last week were sparked by perceived heavy-handed and racist treatment against Papuan students by security forces on the main Java Island.
“Several public facilities and property in Jayapura were vandalised by rioters.
“We are trying to put the situation under control,’’ National Police spokesman, Dedi Prasetyo, said.
Security Minister, Wiranto said the building housing the Papua People’s Council, a government-sanctioned grouping of tribal leaders, was set ablaze by protesters.
Residents in Jayapura were unable to make phone calls and send text messages on Thursday, the state Antara news agency reported.
Local media also reported that electricity in the provincial capital was out.
The government has imposed an internet blackout on Aug.19, in an attempt to restore order in the region after mobs torched buildings during protests involving thousands of people in the neighbouring province of West Papua.
The government sent 1,500 additional police and soldiers to West Papua.
On Aug. 17, police forced their way into a Papuan student dormitory in Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city and briefly detained 43 students for allegedly desecrating an Indonesian flag.
Papuan activists said security personnel hurled racist insults including “monkeys” and “pigs”.
The mainly Melanesian Papua and West Papua provinces make up the Indonesian half of New Guinea Island.