IRIAN JAYA REBELS ONLY HAVE 77 GUNS: MAJOR GENERAL SEMBIRING

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JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya (May 21, 1999 – Jakarta Post/Kabar-Irian)---Guerrilla fighters opposing the Indonesian government in Irian Jaya's jungles only possess 77 guns, with an estimated 150 personnel, a military official said here on Thursday.

Trikora Regional Commander Maj. Gen. Amir Sembiring said the Indonesian Military (TNI) could easily eradicate the "security disturbance movements" due to the group's limited amount of ammunition and number of personnel.

"But that won't be the proper way to solve the problem," Sembiring said.

He said TNI would continue to adopt a persuasive approach with the rebels -- who are mostly armed with traditional arrows, spears and machetes -- with a top priority "to lead them back to their respective hometowns to build their areas."

Most of the rebels were not in the jungles, but at their headquarters in the Bewani valley, Sembiring said.

ANTARA news agency reported that the rebels were involved in a series of crimes, including killings, robberies and abductions, against local civilians on the Indonesian-Papua New Guinea border.

Two weeks ago it was reported that the rebels murdered four Arso plantation workers and kidnapped at least 11 people, including seven women. The fate of the 11 people abducted by the group is yet to be resolved, but local authorities believe the victims have been hidden by the rebels in the Bewane valley.

KABAR IRIAN ("Irian News")

PNG JOINS INDONESIA IN BID TO FREE HOSTAGES

By Terry Friel

JAYAPURA, Indonesia (May 23, 1999 -Reuters)---Papua New Guinea's armed forces chief has flown to Indonesia to help coordinate the rescue of 11 Indonesian workers kidnapped by guerrillas in rebellious Irian Jaya province, said Indonesian officials on Sunday.

The 11 hostages were taken by the Free Papua Movement (OPM) rebels across the Indonesian border into Papua New Guinea after a OPM attack on migrant workers that killed four earlier this month.

PNG military chief Brigadier General Jerry Singirok and Indonesian commanders are coordinating operations on both sides of the border in a bid to free the hostages as soon as possible, the military officials said.

But they said there was no talk yet of any joint military operation.

Officials from both countries said the 11 are suffering from a lack of food and medicine in the rough jungle terrain and are being forced march to a new location each day.

Singirok arrived in Jayapura on Friday for a three-day visit, during which he met Indonesia's military chiefs for the military region of Trikora covering Irian Jaya.

Papua New Guinea has already deployed more than 100 troops near the border between Jayapura and the PNG town of Vanimo, on the island's north coast, raising Jakarta's hopes the hostages could be freed quickly.

"Their positive response is a breakthrough given that the two countries do not have an extradition accord,'' Trikora commander Major-General Amir Sembiring said recently.

The Indonesian Armed forces (Abri) said earlier this month they would declare the border area a military operations zone after increased rebel activity. The move allows Abri to carry out active military operations.

Indonesia has fought a low-level guerrilla war against pro-independence rebels since it took over Irian Jaya -- once part of the Dutch East Indies that formed the basis of modern Indonesia -- in 1969.

OPM guerrillas have stepped up their operations since the end of the tough, army-backed rule of Indonesian President Suharto amid political and economic turmoil in May Last year.

A decision by Suharto's successor, President B.J. Habibie, to let the restive province of East Timor choose between independence and autonomy has also raised the hopes of separatists movements throughout the country, including in Irian Jaya and the Sumatran province of Aceh.

In 1996, OPM rebels in Irian Jaya's remote central highlands took 26 conservation workers hostage, including seven foreigners. Nine were freed after four months when Indonesian troops attacked the rebels.

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.

KABAR IRIAN ("Irian News")

STATE COMPANY TO BUILD OIL PALM ESTATE IN IRIAN JAYA

JAYAPURA, Irian Jaya (May 20, 1999 – ANTARA/Kabar-Irian)---State plantation company PT. Perkebunan Nusantara II, based in Tanjung Morawa, North Sumatra, plans to build a 255,000 acre oil palm estate and a CPO plant in Irian Jaya.

The head of the Irian Jaya Plantation Service, Asmuni Cholil, said here on Thursday that the company has filed an application for the project with his office.

PT. Perkebunan Nusantara II has already opened 57,500 acres of oil palm estates, consisting of 37,500 acres in Arso sub-district, Jayapura regency, and 20,000 acres in Prafi, Warmare sub-district, Manokwari regency.

This semi-giant estate would employ some 20,000 people.

The CPO plant will have a production capacity of 30 tons per hour, which would later be raised to 60 tons per hour. The factory will be built in the transmigration site, Arso VII.

Cholil hopes the company will not only build a CPO plant, but also a factory to produce cooking oil, soap and cosmetics, to reduce the region's dependence on products from other parts of the country.

He said the products also would be shipped to the company's parent companies in Surabaya, Jakarta and Medan.

In the meantime, Asmuni Cholil has disclosed that a private company, PT. Cycloop Raya, is building an oil palm estate in Sabeyap village, Kemtuk sub-district, Jayapura, some 45 miles west of here.

"The company has not filed an application for the project. Therefore his office has mounted an investigation into the matter, and if the company has violated the law it will be strongly dealt with," he pointed out.

Cholil was commenting on a statement by the General Manager of PT.

Cycloops Raya, Andi Ma'mur Madjid, that the company planned to open a 6,000 15,000 acre oil palm estate and build a CPO plant.

KABAR IRIAN ("Irian News")

 

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