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Indonesian soldiers stand guard during a protest in Timika, Papua province
Indonesian soldiers stand guard during a protest in Timika, Papua province
DAILYNEWS Jakarta, Indonesia - Indonesia has deployed more troops to West Papua as demonstrations calling for the region's independence spread.
Government buildings have been torched and reports of unrest belie earlier assurances by the government that the unrest had been contained.
President Joko Widodo's chief security minister, Wiranto, told reporters on Tuesday that Jakarta is deploying more forces to West Papua in anticipation of larger protests on Wednesday across the region.
Video obtained by Al Jazeera showed hundreds of military and police personnel arriving in Manokwari, capital of West Papua province and the scene of violent protests on Monday, while Major General Sisriadi, spokesman for Indonesia's armed forces, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday the military had sent 300 troops to Manokwari.
West Papua comprises the West Papua and Papua provinces and shares an island with Papua New Guinea.
It was a Dutch colony until the early 1960s when Indonesia took it over; becoming part of the country in a controversial 1969 referendum where only some 1,000 people were able to vote.
An armed rebellion by the indigenous West Papua National Liberation Army has been rumbling ever since.
The region is the poorest in Indonesia, in spite of its natural wealth, and there have been numerous allegations of human rights violations there.
In December, an attack by independence fighters killed at least 17 people and triggered a military crackdown that caused 35,000 civilians to flee their homes as security forces tried to flush rebels out of the mountains.
East Java, where Papuan students faced the mistreatment that set off the protests, is on the main Indonesian island of Java.
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