Unrest in Indonesia's Papua over tribal elder death

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TIMIKA, Indonesia, Nov 4 (Reuters) Tribesmen torched several houses in Indonesia's Papua province following the death of a respected tribal figure after a scuffle with a police chief, witnesses and police said today.

Yance Ikomou, died on Friday night after he collapsed following a brief scuffle with the police chief of Mimika Baru town, Yulius Yawan, over the arrest of his son, said Ikomou's wife Siti.

Ikomou himself was a local policeman. The cause of his death was not clear but members of his tribe accused Yawan of killing him.

They attacked the police station and torched several houses belonging to members of Yawan's tribe, forcing police to open fire.

Witnesses said police killed two protesters.

''We are investigating the incident and action will be taken against anyone involved,'' said Papua chief police detective, Paulus Waterpauw.

The town was calm yester after rival camps signed a peace deal witnessed by the provincial deputy police chief and the district chief.

Police also promised to release 16 tribesmen they had held.

Mimika is home to US firm Freeport-McMoran's gold and copper mine.

The Freeport mine -- believed to have the world's third-largest copper reserves and one of the biggest gold deposits -- has been a frequent source of controversy over its environmental impact and the share of revenue going to Papuans.

REUTERS ARB RN1628

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