Indonesia's Papua province was hit by fresh unrest yesterday as more than 1,000 security personnel were sent to the restive region after violent protests. Protesters torched a traditional market and other government buildings in the town of Fakfak in the latest violence, national police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said. Iqbal said additional personnel would be sent to Manokwari and Sorong, where protesters set fire to buildings on Monday and Tuesday. "The situation is under control," Iqbal said. "We are prioritizing persuasive measures and communicating with community and religious leaders," he added.
Jakarta has called for calm in its easternmost territory following riots triggered by the detention of dozens of Papuan students at the weekend. There were also demonstrations in the town of Fakfak on the western edge of the island, which is divided between the Indonesian province of West Papua and the independent nation of Papua New Guinea. The latest protests come after several cities in resource-rich Papua were brought to a standstill this week, including in Manokwari where businesses and the local parliament building were set ablaze by angry demonstrators.
Indonesian security forces have intensified operations in Papua after separatist rebels killed about two dozen construction workers building a road in December. Separatists have fought for independence for the region since the 1960s. Papua and West Papua provinces make up the Indonesian half of New Guinea island.
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