The recent clash between Indonesian Military (TNI) personnel and a local armed group at the Sinai Opitawak Church in Tembagapura, Papua, has forced hundreds of villagers into hiding in nearby forests. One person was killed while three parishioners were injured in the violence.
Parishioner Timotius Umabak was shot dead in a raid conducted by TNI and National Police personnel at 8 a.m. on Wednesday. He was buried in Opitawak on Wednesday afternoon.
Sinai Opitawak Church reverend Deserius Adii said Timotius, along with other parishioners, had been standing on the church’s front porch when the shooting happened.
“All of them were waving the Red-and-White national flag and raised their hands to show the Army personnel that they are not involved with the armed group, but they shot them anyway,” Deserius told The Jakarta Post in a phone interview on Thursday.
Deserius said he still did not know what had happened to the rest of the parishioners, because they dispersed as they tried to hide from the Army. “I haven’t been able to contact any of them since last night,” he said.
In response to the shoot-out, Indonesian Communion of Churches (PGI) secretary-general Rev. Gomar Gultom said the communion expressed its condolences. It also urged the armed forces to start using a cultural approach instead of military force to solve issues in Papua.
He urged the military and armed groups in Papua not to take out their hostilities on civilians.