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Tuesday, July 7, 1998 Published at 05:17 GMT 06:17 UK

Inquiry call after Indonesia shootings

A leading church figure in the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya has called for a full inquiry into clashes on Monday between the security forces and pro-independence demonstrators in the town of Biak.

According to police and church sources, more than 140 people were wounded when troops opened fire on the protesters on Biak island. Some reports say up to seven people died, but this has been denied by the army.

BBC Jakarta Correspondent Jonathan Head: "hard line by authorities"
Bishop Leo Layar of Jayapura, the capital of Irian Jaya, told the BBC that he wanted legal action to be taken against those in the military found to have acted wrongly.

A human rights activist in Irian Jaya, John Rumbiak, said some of those wounded in the incident were bystanders who had been shot from behind as they watched the demonstration.

"There is no way for the families of the victims ... to go to the hospital, because it is now controlled by the military," said Mr Rumbiak, of the Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy.

The army says it opened fire on separatists who had raised the flag of independence. It has imposed a curfew in the area and has been conducting door to door searches.

Although no figures are available for those detained, reports say that whole families have been arrested.

[ image: President Habibie: offer to East Timor]
President Habibie: offer to East Timor
The BBC correspondent in Indonesia says protests against Indonesian rule increased in the province after an offer of limited autonomy to the disputed province of East Timor.

According to local residents, pro-independence activists have been encouraged by the offer of special status for East Timor made by Indonesia's new president, BJ Habibie.

Tough approach

Two other people - a police officer and an anti-government protestor - have been killed during other demonstrations over the past week.

Irian Jaya, which borders Papua New Guinea, was taken over by Indonesia 30 years ago and since then the military has been fighting a low-level conflict with pro-Papuan independence forces there.

As in East Timor, the Indonesian military has taken a tough approach to any pro-independence activity in the former Dutch colony. But unlike East Timor, Indonesia's sovereignty over Irian Jaya has not been the subject of international dispute.

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