Indonesia police investigate torching of Papua church

An evangelical church in Yambi, in Papua’s Puncak Jaya district, was burned down by group of unknown attackers on Monday. The local military commander, Lt Col Bayu Sudarmanto, confirmed the incident. Residents heard gunshots and then saw smoke coming from the GIDI church building, after which they tried to extinguish the flames, Bayu said.

The building was destroyed in the flames, but nobody was hurt.

Police are investigating, the military commander said, adding that residents believed a local group to be behind the arson attack.

“This is the first time a church is burned down in the Central Mountains [of Papua],” said Dainus Game, GIDI chairman in Puncak Jaya. “It is a sad development for everybody, big and small, that this house of God could be burned down.”

Asked who might be responsible for the arson attack, Dainus said he suspected local supporters of the Papua Freedom Organization (OPM).

“Generally the perpetrators [of attacks like these] are from the TPN-OPM, but we don’t know yet who the main perpetrators are [in this case],” he said, referring to the armed wing of the OPM.

Dainus said the attack took place at around 2:15 p.m.

“I feel they [the attackers] oppose development,” he added. “[They oppose] the government, the church — this community even fights against God.“