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Several journalists still in hiding after attack by rioting soldiers in Papua province

(AJI/IFEX) - The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) of Indonesia has condemned the attack on several journalists by rioting soldiers in the province of Papua.

On 29 April 2009, several hundred soldiers assigned to Batallion 751 attacked at least four journalists after they saw the newsmen taking pictures of the riot. Earlier, the soldiers had attacked their own camp due to their anger at their commander over the unpaid benefits for a dead soldier.

The soldiers then turned their wrath on the journalists, confiscating the cameras and other equipment of two of them. One reporter sustained head injuries. As of press time, some of them are hiding in a police station while the others sought refuge in nearby houses.

In a statement, AJI Indonesia said the incident endangered press freedom. "A journalist's freedom to conduct coverage is protected by Law No. 40 Year 1999 on Press and those who try to hamper a journalist from doing his or her job faces a two-year imprisonment and a fine up to 500 million rupiah," the AJI statement said.

AJI Indonesia demanded that the police protect journalists. It also urged the Indonesian military to control its men and take stern action against those who try to prevent journalists from doing their jobs.

Cunding Levi, an AJI member in Papua, has been trying to contact Trikora Military Regional Commander Brig. Gen. A.Y. Nasution in order to ask him to control his men, but the officer did not respond to the calls.

Several journalists are still in hiding. Angel, a contributor of VHRmedia.com, said she had taken refuge in a private residence and heard some shooting. A Kompas journalist said that soldiers are still blocking public roads. A TOP TV journalist received an injury to his head.

Updates alert on the Papua case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/102687

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