Police fire shots at demonstrators in Papua

Police fire shots at demonstrators in Papua

The Associated Press

Police opened fire on pro-independence protesters in Papua province, critically wounding four, just days before Indonesia’s general elections, officials and witnesses said Tuesday.

Officers fired warning shots after being attacked by demonstrators with arrows and rocks, said police spokesman Nurhabri.

But rally organizer Ruben Nawipa said the shooting was unprovoked and injured 11 demonstrators, four critically.

Hospital employee Jerry said a 10-year-old boy was among four patients brought in with life-threatening gunshot injuries resulting from Monday’s protest.

Around 300 demonstrators gathered in Nabire when apparently violence erupted over a disagreement about the route of the protest march.

“The mob was getting brutal and endangering police safety,” said Nurhabri, adding that four police officers were also hospitalized.

“There was no choice, we had to fire warning shots.”

Investigations have been launched into 23 pro-independence activists for allegedly breaking election rules by calling on voters to boycott Thursday’s election.