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News > World

Indonesia Led West Papua Chemical Attack, News Report Says

  • Papuan activists shout near police during a rally to commemorate the West Papuan declaration of independence from Dutch colonial rule in Surabaya.

    Papuan activists shout near police during a rally to commemorate the West Papuan declaration of independence from Dutch colonial rule in Surabaya. | Photo: Reuters file

Published 24 December 2018

The Saturday Newspaper blamed the government of Indonesia for perpetrating an attack against West Papuan villagers using phosphorous bombs. 

A major security operation involving the use of chemical agents allegedly conducted by the Indonesian Army in the West Papua central highlands left at least seven dead, some severely injured, and thousands fled into hiding, according to the Saturday Paper.

Indonesia: Attack in West Papua Leaves Up to 31 Dead

The weapons “appear to be incendiary or white phosphorous,” a military source told the paper.

Another source told that the weapons had been fired from a helicopter belonging to Indonesia.

At least four villages have been targeted with chemical weapons by the attackers, from the air, artillery, and ground troops. The weapons used to target the men are white phosphorous bombs—considered to be both an incendiary and a chemical weapon—which have a record of being employed to create smokescreens and to mark targets, according to the newspaper.

The way to treat victims of phosphorous attacks is to wash out the chemical with water to try to avoid the spread of internal burning and spreading to internal organs caused by the substance.

One of the harsh images which help substantiate the report shows a man with severe burns cutting deep into his leg and his skin and clothing completely melted. There appear to be more images showing the crude effects of the chemical on peoples bodies, including dead ones.

“The allegation highlighted by said media is totally baseless, non-factual, and gravely misleading,” according to Indonesia’s foreign affairs ministry. “Indonesia possesses no chemical weapons,” the communication added.

The ministry also denied the newspaper’s claim suggesting that it was not possible for helicopters to carry the phosphorous bombs and that if such weapons had been employed, then the effects would have been much worse.

The purported purpose of the operation was alleged to retrieve bodies of 24 Indonesian construction workers who were killed by local villagers. However, the operative appears to have had a different purpose, “In reality, the troops were going in, heavily armed and with full air support, to teach the West Papuans a lesson,” according to the newspaper.

This incident began early in December when the West Papuan Liberation Army (WPLA) fired on Indonesian construction workers. Tensions in West Papua have been ongoing for decades motivated by a desire for independence from Indonesia.

The Indonesian government has been accused of human rights violations as well as of violent suppression of liberation movements in West Papua on many occasions, according to The Guardian.

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