‘Morning Star’ Flag Raised at Papua Border Post

Protestors raise the banned ‘Morning Star’ flag during a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the region’s fight for independence in this Dec. 2011 file photo. (AFP Photo/Tjahjono Eranius)

Protestors raise the banned ‘Morning Star’ flag during a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the region’s fight for independence in this Dec. 2011 file photo. (AFP Photo/Tjahjono Eranius)

Jayapura. Gunmen believed to be from a separatist group attacked a border post between Indonesian Papua and Papua New Guinea on Thursday, taking down the Indonesian flag and hoisting a banned separatist flag in its place.

Reports said that the gunmen, suspected to be members of the Free Papua Organization (OPM) fired on the post in the Gunung Pawa area from under the cover of the thick jungle.

No one was hit in the gunfire, but the border officials fled, allowing the gunmen to run down to the post, tear down the Indonesian flag and put up the Bintang Kejora (Morning Star) flag — a banned symbol of the area’s decades-long separatist struggle.

The gunmen also set fire to a number of kiosks around the border post.

A joint police-military patrol arrived at the post soon after, but by then the gunmen had fled back into the cover of the forest.

The border had been ordered closed prior to Wednesday’s legislative election, in anticipation of attempts by separatist guerrillas to disrupt the vote. At least one shooting incident was reported on the day, with the gunman firing on a border post from the Papua New Guinea side of the border.

Following Thursday’s attack, leaders from the Indonesian and Papua New Guinea militaries in the border region met to discuss security measures in response to the shootings.

Col. Herman Asaribab, the head of the military command in Jayapura, the Papua provincial capital, told reporters that he had asked his PNG counterparts to “take all measures deemed necessary” to “flush out” the gunmen.

However, the PNG authorities were reported as saying there was little they could do against the shooters, given that most of the time they were acting within Indonesian territory and not on the PNG side of the border.

In Jakarta, meanwhile, the chief security minister and the Indonesian Military (TNI) chief have pledged to continue cracking down on the armed insurgency in Papua, and vowed to maintain a heavy security presence there beyond the presidential election in July. The Jakarta Globe

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