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Journalists caught in the tense standoff

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, April 30, 2009) – An Indonesian journalist says he and three colleagues were accosted by soldiers as violence broke out around the main military base in the provincial capital of Papua.

The rioting stemmed from a protest by members of a battalion whose local Commander decided that soldiers themselves would have to provide funds for the burial of a fellow soldier in Nabire.

The soldiers felt that the military should pay for the burial and their protest spiralled out of control as gun fire rang out.

A local journalist with the Antara news agency, Oka Bharata, says as the violence from within began to spill outside, he and other journalists present were searched and had equipment taken from them.

"The real problem is because they’re unsatisfied with their commander, so they’re searching journalists who were there, unhappy," said Bharat. "But the situation maybe has already calmed down now because the commander from Jakarta from the army has arrived."

Oka Bharata says many civilians present were beaten by soldiers.

Radio New Zealand International:

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