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Indonesia deploys more troops to West Papua after riots

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JAKARTA, 22 August 2019 [Fik/News Sources]: Indonesia has deployed additional police squads and armed troops to its far east West Papua province, following protests that led to riots recently, police said on Wednesday.

Indonesia’s police headquarter said it sent 15 teams of police from Sulawesi, Bali, and Maluku after riots erupted in Manokwari town, Sorong city and Fakfak Regency of West Papua.

"The national police chief ordered to transfer police personnel from other cities to West Papua as an intelligence estimation," police spokesman Inspector General Muhammad Iqbal told reporters in the capital Jakarta.

The Indonesian Armed Forces also sent three companies of troops to Manokwari and Sorong.

“We sent them to several cities in West Papua as ordered,” said Maj. Gen. Sisriadi, spokesman for the military.

Iqbal said the squads were not equipped with the live ammunition and would prioritize persuasive steps to reduce conflicts.

The situation in Manokwari and Sorong has been calm on Wednesday after the masses staged an action on Monday and Tuesday, according to police.

However, a riot occurred in Fakfak during a mass protest against the racist treatment of Papuan students in East Java province.

Crowds set the Tumburani Market and the Fakfak Traditional Council Office on fire. The police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters.

The demonstration that led to a chaos came after a raid on the dormitory of Papuan students by the security forces and community organizations in Surabaya, East Java, on Aug. 16-17.

Security forces detained 43 students for allegedly desecrating the national flag.

The raid was allegedly triggered by a misunderstanding after the Surabaya City Government's red and white flag fell in front of the dormitory. Police later released the detainees early Sunday.

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