Papuans Clash With Police in Timika

Hundreds of supporters of a slain Papuan rebel leader pelted Indonesian police with stones Saturday as tensions flared ahead of the commander's funeral.Clashes erupted as a coffin carrying the body of Kelly Kwalik and draped in the outlawed flag of Papuan independence was placed on public display outside the parliament building in the southern Papuan town of Timika.The Free Papua Movement (OPM) commander was shot dead by police during a raid on his hideout on Wednesday.Up to 500 angry mourners started throwing stones at security forces after a local tribal leader made a fiery speech near parliament."The police managed to calm the people quickly. The clash occurred for about 10 to 15 minutes," Papua province police spokesman Agus Riyanto said."We are ready to serve the people by making the funeral as secure as possible. We'll secure not just the burial location, but also the route of the funeral," he added.A date for the funeral has not been set, tribal leaders said.Nerius Katagame, a leader of Kwalik's Amungme tribe, earlier riled Kwalik's supporters by telling them to express their discontent in writing to the Indonesian government, rather than taking to the streets."Only God knows the independence of Papua. It's not possible for us to go back to zero," Nerius Katagame told the crowd.OPM fighters, often using bows and arrows and World War II-era explosives, have waged a low-level insurgency against Indonesian rule of the resource-rich, ethnically Melanesian region since the mid-1960s.Police have linked Kwalik to a string of ambushes near Timika over the past six months targeting the operations of US miner Freeport McMoRan.An Australian mine technician was killed in one of the attacks in July, while in 2002 two US Freeport employees were killed in similar circumstances.Freeport's giant gold and copper mine has long been linked to human rights abuses involving Indonesian troops who secure the facility.In 1986 Kwalik's group allegedly kidnapped and killed eight Javanese students. He was also accused of ordering the kidnapping of 12 scientists including four Indonesians, four Britons, two Germans and two Dutch in 1996.Two of the Indonesians were killed in a military rescue operation that freed the hostages three months later.In 2001 he is said to have ordered the kidnapping of two Belgian journalists who were released after two months.Kwalik denied being involved in the attacks on a Web site posting. Despite the negligible military threat posed by the OPM, Indonesian courts have handed down stiff penalties from 20 years' jail to life for people caught with separatist symbols such as the red, white and blue Papuan flag.

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