17 dead as rival groups clash in Indonesia's Papua

AP News
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Posted: Jul 31, 2011 9:22 AM
17 dead as rival groups clash in Indonesia's Papua

Police say clashes between supporters of rival candidates in upcoming local elections in eastern Indonesia have killed 17 people and injured dozens.

Police spokesman Wachyono says hundreds of supporters of two rival groups clashed Sunday with rocks, bows and arrows outside the local parliament building in Puncak district in remote Papua province.

Wachyono, who uses only one name, said the two groups began exchanging insults and the fight escalated as angry mobs set alight nearby houses and cars.

Authorities are trying to stop the fighting.

A small, poorly armed movement has been struggling for independence in Papua for decades. The region is rich in natural resources but impoverished.

Elections for district chiefs will be held Nov. 9.