Jayapura – Anticipating security disturbances in the lead up to the 2004 general elections, the TNI (armed forces) will increase surveillance in areas which are considered to be susceptible to disturbances by the Free Papua Organisation or the Papua National Liberation Army (OPM/TPN). There will not be any increase in troop numbers but routine patrols will be increased.
This was revealed by the commander of the Trikora military command (Korem), Major General Nurdin Zainal in Jayapura on Thursday January 29. Zainal reminded TNI members throughout Papua to increase surveillance in the lead up to the elections. According to intelligence reports, the OPM/TPN want to disrupt the elections by inciting the public not to participate in the elections.
“We appeal to all members to increase surveillance, especially in areas which are considered to be susceptible to security disturbances such as Jayawijaya, Demta, Sarmi, Bonggo and areas on the boarder with Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. We must prevent this before [it actually happens] in order that no harm comes to TNI [members] or civilians because it is suspected that there will be many efforts to disrupt security in the lead up to the elections”, said Zainal.
OPM/TPN offices raided
Separately, the commander of the Prajawirayakti military command 172/PWY, Colonel Agus Mulyadi, said that on Wednesday at 7.30pm, TNI members of the 172/PWY military command from the 753 Yonif division ambushed scores of OPM/TPN members. Although OPM leader Leo Warisman from Takar village in the Sarmi sub-district/regency escaped, troops were able to seize two firearms, 52 rounds of ammunition, two bayonets, and two morning star flags, camouflage fatigues and documents on the OPM/TPN’s struggle.
“An fire fight did occur for several minutes, but there were no casualties in the action. The TNI was being more careful [than usual] because the OPM/TPN headquarters are [located] near a civilian settlement. They continue to make sure that no civilians fall victim [to military operations]”, said Mulyadi.
At a separate location, the head of the Jayapura regency national police (preparatory), chief superintendent Robert Djoenso, said that members of the Jayapura police raided the OPM/TPN headquarters in Nimborang/Demta in the Jayapura regency on Tuesday. OPM leader Yance Hembring was arrested together with 19 other OPM members. They are now being held at the Jayapura police offices. The Jayapura police seized a number of traditional weapons, OPM/TPN documents, a computer and materials related to the Papua independence struggle.
For some time the OPM/TPN group headed by Hembring has been causing significant public disturbances. They have been collecting illegal taxes and taking goods from local shops with the promise that they will be repaid after Papua is independent. The people have suffered damages amounting to hundreds of millions of rupiah. (kor).
[Translated by James Balowski.]