Probe urged into death of priest in Papua

Australian Associated Press

An Indonesian church group has urged President Joko Widodo to order an independent investigation into the killing of a priest in the rebellious Papua province.

Local church leaders said Yeremia Zanambani was shot dead by Indonesian soldiers who were hunting separatist rebels in Intan Jaya district on Saturday, but police and the military said he was killed by insurgents.

“It is not easy for us to get to the bottom of this,” said the Communion of Churches in Indonesia in a letter to Joko, a copy of which was received by dpa.

“To avoid accusations and counteraccusations, we suggest that an independent fact-finding body be formed,” it said.

The Indonesian Gospel Tabernacle Church in Papua said Zanambani, a priest and theologian by training, was shot by government soldiers while tending to pigs on his farm.

Papua police spokesman Ahmad Kamal confirmed the killing but said the perpetrators were what he called “the armed criminal group,” referring to the rebels.

Last week, two soldiers and another civilian were killed in separate attacks, police said.

The West Papua National Liberation Army, the armed wing of the separatist movement, claimed responsibility for the killings.

It said that the civilian was an informant for security authorities.

Papua has been the scene of a low-level separatist insurgency since the 1960s.

Clashes between separatist rebels and government security forces have intensified after insurgents killed 31 workers who were building a road in Nduga district in December 2018.

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