Indonesia’s Papua was hit by fresh unrest yesterday as more than 1,000 security personnel were sent to the restive region after violent protests that saw buildings torched and street battles between police and demonstrators.
Jakarta has called for calm in its easternmost territory -- where an insurgency against Indonesian rule has simmered for decades -- following riots triggered by the detention of dozens of Papuan students in Java at the weekend.
Yesterday, about 1,000 people protested in the streets of Timika city, where an AFP reporter saw demonstrators throw rocks at the local parliament building and try to tear down its fence.
The crowd, which also reportedly pelted shops and homes with rocks, dispersed as riot police fired warning shots.
Indonesian media reported police arrested 45 people, including some they accused of masterminding the protests and damaging buildings.
Hundreds also marched through the streets of Sorong city, and hoisted the banned Papuan flag in the town of Fakfak on the western end of the island, which is divided between Indonesia and the nation of Papua New Guinea.
Police fired tear gas to disperse crowds in Fakfak after they set fire to a market and destroyed ATMs and shops, local media reported.
Several cities in resource-rich Papua were brought to a standstill this week, including Manokwari where businesses and the local parliament building were set ablaze by angry demonstrators.
Authorities are hunting for more than 250 inmates who had escaped from a prison in Sorong that was torched during the riots.