April 8, 2009 / 8:44 PM / 10 years ago

Pre-election violence hits Indonesia's Papua

JAYAPURA, Indonesia, April 9 (Reuters) - Indonesia’s Papua province was hit by violence on Thursday, including an attack on a police post by about 100 people, hours before voting was due to start in parliamentary elections, police said.

Police opened fire, killing one person, when the crowd attacked the police post in the provincial capital Jayapura with bows and arrows and petrol bombs, Papua Police Chief Bagus Ekodanto said by telephone.

He said a group of unidentified gunmen had earlier attacked another small police post near the border with Papua New Guinea, and part of the university in Jayapura was also burned.

Elsewhere, four people died and two were critically hurt in violence in Wamena, southwest of Jayapura, he said. "The gunmen and other groups tried to make the elections fail," Ekodanto said, calling for calm.

In another town, Biak, a fuel tank and 14 houses were burned and one person was killed, the police chief said.

Tensions in Papua, where a separatist movement has simmered for decades, have been running high in recent weeks and some Papuans have been calling for a boycott of the election.

On Monday, Indonesian police shot and wounded 11 people at a pro-independence rally in Nabire in Papua, where demonstrators urged an election boycott and protested about a police raid, a hospital worker said. (Reporting by Oka Barta Daud; additional reporting by Telly Nathalia in Jakarta; writing by Ed Davies; editing Tim Pearce)

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