More than 16,000 flee unrest in Indonesia’s Papua region

Jakarta, Oct 7 (AFP/APP):More than 16,000 scared residents have fled an unrest-hit city in Indonesia’s Papua region, the military said Monday, as one of the deadliest eruptions of violence in years sparked calls for an independent probe.

Several dozen people were killed when violence broke out in Wamena city last month, with some victims burned alive when buildings were ablaze, and others stabbed in the chaos, according to authorities.

Since mid-August, Papua has been hit by waves of mass protests and violence fuelled by racism against indigenous Papuans by Indonesians from other parts of the archipelago, as well as calls for self-rule in the impoverished region.

The majority of Papuans are Christian and ethnic Melanesian with few cultural ties to the rest of Muslim-majority Indonesia.

On Monday, the air force said about 11,400 people — mostly migrants — had been evacuated aboard military aircraft. Several thousand more have left aboard commercial aircraft since late September, it added.

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