PNG PROBING INDONESIAN CLAIM OF PAPUAN ATTACKS

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (RNZI, Jan. 8) - Papua New Guinea’s police commissioner has been sent to the border province of Sandaun to investigate whether or not Papuan separatist rebels have been launching attacks against Indonesia from Papua New Guinea.

Tarcy Eri, the Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Secretary says Commissioner Sam Inguba will investigate security breaches along the border by OPM, or Free Papua, rebels and Jakarta troops.

Eri’s comments come after Indonesia accused PNG of harboring OPM rebels in the border town of Wutung.

Jakarta also accused OPM rebels of recent attacks on a delegation of Papuan government officials and troops as well as shooting and wounding several members of the family of a prominent human rights activist.

On Tuesday, PNG’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu censured Jakarta’s Ambassador to PNG over reports of Indonesian troops crossing the border and randomly shooting local citizens.

Eri says the Somare government will not tolerate OPM rebels using PNG soil to launch attacks against Indonesia.

"The police commissioner is on the border now... to determine whether these people have been actually operating from our side," said Eri. "We will not allow them to use our soil, to mount operations against the Indonesian army. If they want to take on the might of the Indonesian Army, then they should do it on the other side."

Meanwhile Papua leaders concerned about the reported border clashes are calling for dialogue with the PNG government.

Franz Albert Joku from the Papua Presidium Council says that they want to share with the Somare government information which will dispute claims that the OPM was behind the recent attacks.

He says that if the Somare government sends Papuans back across the border, innocent Papuans living peacefully in PNG will be affected.

"We have no problem in PNG, cooperating with Indonesia. But we don't want them sacrificing West Papuans simply because of ignorance about what is actually happening on the ground," said Joku.

"Our information suggests that the Indonesian military has been training Papuan militia groups who are now being used along the border, posing as OPM."

January 8, 2003

For additional reports from Radio New Zealand International, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio New Zealand International.

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