• Armed separatists occupy villages in Indonesia’s Papua – police

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    JAYAPURA, Indonesia: A group of armed separatists were occupying two villages near a huge US-owned copper mine in Indonesia’s eastern Papua province, police said Friday, as they sought to end the tense standoff. Around 1,300 residents were being held hostage by a two-dozen strong group that authorities said was part of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), which has been fighting a long-running insurgency marked by periodic bouts of violence. Villagers have been prevented from entering or leaving their small communities for two days, but have so far not been harmed, authorities said, as some 700 heavily armed Indonesian military personnel kept an eye on the situation. “These people are from a criminal group that commit violence and intimidation—what they want is war,” local police chief Victor Dean Macbon told Agence France-Presse. “For now we are prioritizing pre-emptive and preventive measures. We still have not forced our way in because we don’t want the villagers to be victimized,” he added. The villages sit near US firm Freeport-McMoRan’s mine where there have been a string of recent shootings including one in late October that left a policeman dead.

    AFP

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