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JAKARTA, July 30 — Indonesia’s military said today it was probing the death of an 18-year-old in its insurgency-wracked Papua region, as Amnesty International alleged it was the latest in a string of civilian killings by soldiers.
Oktovianus Warip was being questioned over a suspected theft case last week when he began to “feel dizzy and weak”, said Papua military spokesman Reza Nur Patria.
“He was taken to a clinic but his condition deteriorated and he died,” Patria added.
“The (soldier) involved in the incident will be dismissed from the army if he’s found guilty” in Warip’s death.
Patria did not elaborate on how the teen died or what role the military may have played in his death.
Amnesty, citing its own investigation, alleged that Warip was fatally beaten when he was arrested in Boven Digoel regency on the border with independent Papua New Guinea.
Wounds were seen on the teen’s body, the group said.
“This shows that the state is not serious about preventing and correcting repressive acts by security forces in Papua,” said Amnesty International Indonesia’s executive director Usman Hamid.
“Authorities must launch an independent investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
Indonesia’s military has long been accused of committing atrocities against Papuan civilians during a decades-long rebel movement aimed at gaining independence for the region.
The South-east Asian nation took control of mineral-rich Papua in the 1960s following a vote to stay within the archipelago that was widely viewed as rigged.
Two weeks ago, a father and son were shot dead by the military in Papua’s conflict-hit Nduga region.
The military described the pair as armed separatist rebels while rights groups countered that they were civilians.
Conflicting accounts are common in Papua, where the military and rebels have frequently blamed each other for years of violence.
Amnesty said it has documented 14 unlawful killings by members of the military and police in Papua since February.
Papua has seen several spasms of deadly violence over the past year, including unrest linked to a fresh push for independence and racial tensions.
Ethnically Melanesian, most Papuans are Christians who have few cultural links to Muslim-majority Indonesia. — AFP
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