(6 January 2010)
THE Papua New Guinea-Indonesia border post at Wutung, Sandaun province, was closed during the festive December period after three Indonesians were gunned down, but has been reopened temporarily amid a tense atmosphere of further confrontation.
Customs Commissioner Gary Juffa said yesterday the situation at the border remained tense but the border had been opened to allow normal trade to continue.
“But relevant enforcement agencies are, including Customs, keeping a close hand on the pulse,” Mr Juffa said.
The border was shut on Dec 20 after the three Indonesians were shot at point-blank range the previous day, allegedly by members of a faction of the separatist West Papua Movement (OPM).
One of them was killed instantly while the other two are in serious condition and receiving medical attention.
“We are closely monitoring the situation, as such the border remains tentatively opened,” Mr Juffa, who is a member of the Border Development Authority, told The National.
At this stage, the alleged killers are said to be members of the Mathias Wenda faction of the OPM.
When the shooting occurred, hundreds of PNG nationals were attending a trade fair at Batas on the Indonesian side of the border.
Reports said the Sandaun administrator and his family were also on the other side, but were later escorted safely back into PNG.
“We are in close dialogue with our Indonesian counterparts and are monitoring the situation,” Mr Juffa said.
It is understood that Indonesian authorities are combing the borderline in search of the suspects.
Source: the National