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Journalists in hiding from rioting soldiers

(IFJ/IFEX) - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) is extremely worried for the safety of a team of journalists in Indonesia, who tonight are reported to be in hiding in Jayapura, Papua Province, as hundreds of soldiers of the Indonesian army riot in the town.

Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (AJI), an IFJ affiliate, reports that the journalists were reporting on a military event in Jayapura today when they observed soldiers attacking an army camp. One of the team took photos of the attack.

While the details are unclear, it is reported that a large group of border patrol soldiers of Battalion 751 Sentani then turned on the journalists.

After soldiers seized the journalists' bags and cameras, the media team sought refuge in a nearby community.

Four journalists are reportedly hiding in a local police station. Another is sheltering in a local home and has reported hearing many gunshots. Local people provided the journalists with different clothes to disguise their identities.

The police reportedly say they cannot guarantee the safety of the journalists if they leave the station. The police are also worried for their own safety after a clash between soldiers and police yesterday. While the IFJ is aware of the names of two of the journalists, it is refraining from naming them in the interests of their safety.

It is reported that the soldiers are angry with a provincial military commander for failing to provide adequate compensation for the death of a soldier. The commander had invited the journalists to attend an event in the town.

The well-being of the journalists could not be confirmed tonight. However, there were unconfirmed reports that one of the journalists may be suffering head injuries.

"The Indonesian Government must take urgent action to calm the situation and provide police with immediate support to protect these journalists, who have been singled out by soldiers and are in grave danger amid the chaos in Jayapura," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries worldwide.

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