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JAKARTA, Indonesia (July 8, 1998 - Radio Australia)---Indonesia will launch an official investigation into the reported shooting deaths of separatist demonstrators in Irian Jaya.

Radio Australia correspondent Mark Bowling reports this follows confirmation that Indonesian security forces opened fire on a crowd of Biak protesters calling for independence:

"Human rights sources claim at least three people died and 141 were wounded when police fired into a crowd on Biak Island. But the death toll could be higher.

"Irian Jaya's regional police commander, Colonel Agus Edyono, admits live bullets were fired as well as rubber bullets at demonstrators raising the separatist flag of the Free Papua Movement. He said live bullets were only fired into the air but may have ricocheted, wounding some of those in the crowd. Colonel Edyono added that a shortage of medical supplies was making treating the wounded difficult.

"There are reports of other demonstrations and clashes with Indonesian troops in a number of towns in Irian Jaya.

"Meanwhile, a two-member investigation team from the National Commission on Human Rights has postponed a visit to Irian Jaya, originally scheduled July 11th, because one of the members is ill.

"Mark Bowling, Jakarta."



WASHINGTON, D. C. (July 8, 1998 - Radio Australia)---The United States has reiterated its support for Irian Jaya remaining part of Indonesia, in the wake of pro-independence rallies that have seen troops open fire on demonstrators.

Washington says Irian Jaya is an integral part of Indonesia and it has called on demonstrators to refrain from violent acts.

The U-S has also urged maximum restraint from Indonesian authorities and called on them to foster a climate of dialogue.

Up to five people were killed and more than 140 injured when troops on the island of Biak opened fire on a crowd that raised a separatist flag.

The local military commander has confirmed that live ammunition was used.

On Friday two students in the provincial capital, Jayapura, were wounded when security forces broke up a pro-independence rally at a university.

Irian Jaya, which borders Papua New Guinea, was taken over by Indonesia in 1963, in a move recognized by the United Nations in 1969.

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