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Four killed in clash in Indonesia's Papua

Written by: Staff

JAKARTA, Apr 10 (Reuters) Four people were killed today in an exchange of fire between soldiers and suspected separatists in Indonesia's remote resource-rich province of Papua, a military spokesman said.

Ahmad Yani Basuki, spokesman of the Indonesian armed forces in Jakarta, said the clash erupted when a group of 30 armed men attacked soldiers monitoring a health event in a village some 70 km (44 miles) from the provincial capital Jayapura.

''The attackers used A-47 rifles, axes and bows and arrows.

Two of our members died while two from their side also died.

The separatists have been suspected but we need to further investigate this case,'' Basuki told Reuters.

Papuan independence activists have waged a campaign for more than 30 years to break away from Indonesia while a low-level armed rebellion has also simmered for decades.

Tensions in the province have risen recently. Last month, four policemen and a soldier were killed during protests demanding the closure of a giant mine by U.S firm Freeport.

Human rights groups have accused the Indonesian military of widespread abuses in Papua.

Critics say grievances among Papuans stem from such abuses and from dissatisfaction over Jakarta's distribution of wealth generated by the province, rich in gold and natural gas.

Jakarta took over Papua from Dutch colonial rule in 1963.

In 1969 its rule was formalised in a vote by community leaders which was widely criticised as political theatre.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said last August he wanted to end conflict in Papua after the signing of a peace accord with rebels from Aceh province, Indonesia's other separatist region in the country's far northwest.


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