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Security forces attack, as Papua declares independence

Indonesian soldiers and police have attacked the Third Papuan People’s Congress, held in Padanbulan, Jayapura.

Thousands of Papuans from more than 250 tribes gathered to elect new leaders and to discuss the rights of Papuans.

The banned Papuan flag was raised before Forkorus Yoboisembut was elected president by the tribes.

Mr Yoboisembut in his speech declared the independence of the Papuan state from Indonesian rule, prompting the over 5000 strong Indonesian security forces to attack the gathering.

Reports indicate one person was killed and several injured, while the president was arrested.

A Papuan rights activist told AFP "They got in and started firing tear gas, trampling and beating up the crowd with their bare fists and rifle butts,"

Indonesian police denied any casualties and claimed that only warning shots were fired.

A police spokesman, Wachyono, told the BBC, "We cannot let them announce a transitional government for Papua. This move is against the law and we cannot let it happen. We fired warning shots to disperse them,"

Papuans have demanded a referendum on independence ever since West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969, with sporadic violence breaking out between separatists and Indonesian forces for decades.

Indonesian security forces have been accused of widespread human rights abuses and genocide during the ongoing conflict.

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